Cancer is a non-communicable disease (NCD). It is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. To put it even simple - it is what happens when “the small small cells inside our bodi con grow the way they nor suppose grow and it fit enter, con spread inside ourwa bodi”.
So what do you think of Cancer?
Bimbo was 20 years old and a student of one of the prestigious public universities in Nigeria. Everything seemed to be going well for her health wise and education wise. She visited a close friend and her friend downloaded everything she had learnt in a cancer awareness symposium and encouraged Bimbo to try out the self examination technique.
The first time Bimbo tried self-examination, she noticed a lump on her left breast. Shocked, she decided to go for a checkup and later advised to go for a mammogram which she did and she was diagnosed with Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS, intraductal carcinoma).
Bimbo’s case would have been worse if not for her friend’s knowledge on cancer. Cancer is no respecter of age, socio-economic status, religion, culture or sex.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) during the World Cancer Day on February 4th 2019 a total of 41,000 Nigerians were killed by cancer in 2018, out of an estimated 166,000 cases recorded in the country.
What do you think causes Cancer?
Cancer risk factors can be divided into:
1. biological or internal factors, such as age, gender, inherited genetic defects and skin type
2. environmental exposure, for instance to radon and UV radiation, and fine particulate matter
3. occupational risk factors, including carcinogens such as many chemicals, radioactive materials and asbestos
4. lifestyle-related factors such as tobacco, alcohol, some food-related factors, such as nitrites and poly aromatic hydrocarbons generated by barbecuing food).
There are numerous types of cancer.
In Nigeria, the most prevalent types of cancer are breast cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer. In addition to the aforementioned are blood cancers like multiple myeloma and leukemia.
Cancer gives most people no symptoms or signs that exclusively indicate the disease. Unfortunately, every complaint or symptom of cancer can be explained by a harmless condition as well. If certain symptoms occur or persist, however, a doctor should be seen for further evaluation. Some common symptoms that may occur with cancer are as follows:
- Persistent cough or blood-tinged saliva
- Unexplained anemia (low blood count)
- Blood in stool
- Breast lump or breast discharge
- Lumps in the testicles
- Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
- A change in urination
- Unexpected weight loss, night sweats, or fever
- Continued itching in the anal or genital area
- Back pain, pelvic pain, bloating, or indigestion
Cancer Prevention Tips
Healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating proper and healthy diets, engaging in appropriate exercises and ensuring routine medical check at all times can help to prevent cancer. Early detection helps and saves a lot of trouble.
"Cancer is scary and demands proper attention in Nigeria. It is usually a death sentence in the country, and anyone can be affected," Thomas Anyanwu, an oncologist in Nigeria's economic hub, Lagos said.
There are some ways that cancer will typically be treated:
When used to treat cancer, surgery is a procedure in which a surgeon removes cancer from your body.
2. Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells.
Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer.
5. Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets the changes in cancer cells that help them grow, divide, and spread.
6. Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy is a treatment that slows or stops the growth of breast and prostate cancers that use hormones to grow.
7. Stem Cell Transplant
Stem cell transplants are procedures that restore blood-forming stem cells in cancer patients who have had theirs destroyed by very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
8. Precision Medicine
Precision medicine helps doctors select treatments that are most likely to help patients based on a genetic understanding of their disease.
So I ask again, what do you think of cancer?
Aghedo Osazemen is a graduate of Human kinetics and Health Education, a Digital Marketer/Social media Manager with key interests in sports, health education and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and developing projects around the goals.
She enjoys volunteering for SDGs related projects, writing, travelling and photography.
You can reach Osazemen on Facebook @AghedoOsazee and Instagram @thevolunteeraddict