What is Cancer?
Cancer happens when there is the misdirection of cells onto the wrong pathway in the body and the invasion of these cells into other parts of the body.
Every organ within the body is made up of cells which are directed on speciﬁc pathways, grow and die off naturally releasing new cells as a person grows. Note that some cells grow abnormally but do not invade into other parts of the body and these are called benign tumors like ﬁbroids.
B. What factors cause cells to be misdirected within the body and lead to Cancers?
50% of cancers are sporadic including aging.
40% are caused by Lifestyle factors which include SMOKING (tobacco, shisha, etc), ALCOHOL INTAKE, OBESITY,
RELATED POST: HOW TO ADDRESS THE RAPID CRISIS OF OBESITY?
PHYSICAL INACTIVITY, POOR NUTRITION (e.g. high intake of red meats, low intake of fruits and vegetables, etc.), and ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION. Infections from HIV, HPV and Hepatitis B, H Pylori, Schistosomiasis are also contributory factors for speciﬁc cancers.
5% – 10% of cancers are also caused by genetics; i.e. people who have a strong family history of certain cancers stand a risk of developing those cancers.
C. Who is likely to develop Cancer and at what age?
Anybody, from unborn babies in the womb to children, young people, men and women. However, individuals who expose themselves to risk factors including lifestyle factors as listed above stand a higher chance of developing one form of cancer or another. Age wise, Cancers occur mostly in the elderly but lately, younger age at presentation is increasing and this is most probably due to indulgence in the vices.
D. Are there different types? Which are the most prevalent in Ghana and why?
There are over 100 types of cancers because there are different cell types in the body’s organs and each type can develop into a cancer.
QUICK READ: IMPORTANT TIPS TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY PROSTATE!
Prevalent types in Ghana: Males – Liver , Prostate , Head & Neck ,Colon Cancers Females – Breast, Cervical , Liver, Colorectal, Head & Neck Cancers Children – Brain, Leukemia & lymphoma (Cancer of the Blood cells,) Kidney Cancer.
Why the prevalence in Ghana And are they preventable? Preventable to a large extent, yes. More than 70 % of prevalent cancers we ﬁnd in Ghana are preventable through;
Healthy Lifestyle adaptations (no smoking including shisha, no alcohol, weight control, physical activity and intake of well-balanced nutrition, avoidance of indiscriminate sexual practices and / or protection).
A large percentage of highly prevalent cancers in Ghanaian adults can be prevented or detected early through screening.
There’s also the issue of our worrying culture of poor health education and regular screenings. Knowing our bodies well, being alert about changes, appropriate health seeking behaviours and making regular health checks habitual will aid prevention, early detection and treatments.
Liver cancer can be prevented with education to avoid contaminated maize and groundnuts, Hepatitis B vaccination during childhood and for health workers.
Prostate cancer impact can be reduced through early detection to improve cure.
Head and neck cancer; by avoiding smoke and alcohol, proper diets, and getting also screening for early detection in high risk people.
Colon cancer can be prevented by reducing meat and increase fruit and vegetable intake, reducing obesity, increasing physical activity, getting screened with stool blood tests, etc
Breast cancer can be reduced by weight control, diet control, avoidance of alcohol and tobacco. Breast cancer can also be detected early by knowledge about signs and symptoms, screenings and regular breast self-examinations.
Cervical cancer can be prevented with HPV vaccination in prebubetal females , having less children, no smoking , less sexual partners to reduce HPV and HIV infections, early detection and treating early lesions.
E. How does Cancer affect the body?
Symptoms play out differently depending on which organ is cancerous. Example, a brain cancer patient may experience headaches and facial disﬁgurement, breast cancer patients will notice a lump or skin changes, cervical cancer patients may experience irregular bleeding between menstruation, etc.
QUICK READ: SIMPLE WAY TO CALCULATE YOUR MENSTRUAL CYCLE!
F. Are Cancers curable?
Over the past decade , developing countries have recorded the biggest drop in cancer deaths 10-13%. , with highest rates observed in advanced stages.
This is made possible by controls to promote early detection, screenings, education and laws to reduce use of tobacco and alcohol, extensive research, new drug and other treatment discoveries or improvement. These are however all very expensive!
Less opulent countries have other health problems and do not invest in cancer care which causes negative impact on economies, loss of income and productivity.
The few studies done in Ghana have indicated similar survival for early stage disease for breast, prostate , colorectal, cervix , but very few present at this stage. We can say now verbally that patients with certain advanced stages cancer, i.e. breast, prostate, and colon cancers are living longer than a decade ago in Ghana.
Set back is the delay in seeking appropriate medical care, poor cancer education, poverty, access to care, spiritual connotations, denial etc.
Some cancers have a better curability outcomes compared to others and very small cancers are highly curable generally.
It is your right to always seek for a second opinion if not happy with a diagnosis.
We should also be aware that cancers can only be diagnosed through laboratory tests.
We should adopt a culture of regular / habitual screenings to aid early detection and effective treatments. For females; regular breast and cervical screenings and others. For males, regular prostate screenings, physical examination and others.
Pay close attention to your body, know your body well enough to be able to decipher the slightest change and / or abnormality.
GET SCREENED REGULARLY | LEARN MORE | BE PROACTIVE | LIVE WELL.
Dr. Verna Vanderpuye Oncologist Radiotherapy Department, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital
|“Hey, you have been working hard all year, you deserve a nice thing for your own wellbeing and longevity.” You should check this out now on our natural WELL BEING AND VITAL ORGANS PACK NOW. BUY NOW!! There are few different options available. But, it may not cost you anything to invest in your own health and wellbeing. By the way, if you want more information like this, feel free to subscribe to our daily health tips
Or Call us +233546122137/+233573444048 WhatsApp