We Can. I Can

Cancer, which is the generic name for a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells, has existed for all of human history. These abnormal cells evade other body cells and may obstruct the circulation of oxygen and nutrients in those areas.

Over 100 cancers are known and they are identified in relation to the body area from which they emanate. The rates of occurrences differ between sexes.  Common in men are the lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancers while breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, uterine cervix cancer and stomach cancer are more common in women.

The symptoms of cancer are dependent on its position, size and the effect it has on other organs of the body. Some cancers develop in places where early symptoms are not readily noticeable until they must have grown in size while others are positioned in areas where symptoms are easily observed. These symptoms are not exclusive to cancers so may require some tests to accurately diagnose the underlying disease. The symptoms include unexplained weight loss or gain, extreme tiredness, skin changes, pain, thickening/lump on the skin, sores that refuse to heal, change in bowel or bladder habits, persistent cough etcetera.
Cancer may be caused by changes (mutations) in the DNA. These changes may be present at birth or may develop in one’s lifetime. The body has a mechanism designed to repair such changes. If any of these changes in the DNA is mistakenly omitted, the genes will interpret a wrong information which may result in cancer. There are several factors that increase the risk of developing cancer, they are:
  •   Genetic factors: Some families have some types of cancers running in them. Members of such families are at risk of having such cancers.
  •  Lifestyle choices: Tobacco use, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and alcohol use increase the risk of a cancer. 30% of cancers are caused by these lifestyle habits.
  •  Environmental factors: Chemical pollution in the air, land and soil endanger the body and increase the risk of cancer. They are also implicated in the depletion of the ozone layer – exposing the skin to the DNA damaging effect of ultraviolet rays from the sun.
  •  Infections: Some viruses such as hepatitis B, Human papilloma virus and hepatitis C virus are known to increase the risk of cancer.
Early detection, accurate diagnosis and effective treatment increases the rate of survival. They also reduce the suffering the patient undergoes. Preventive measures are cost-effective and less expensive, they are the best choices to make in curbing the cancer menace. We can, I can.

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi



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