4 February 2017: World Cancer Day

By Our Regional Projects Subcommittee 

Introduction
Currently 8.2 million people die from cancer worldwide every year. Out of which 4 million people die prematurely between the ages 30 to 69 years. A report which relied on more than 100 cancer registries in 68 countries from 2001-2010, indicated that approximately 300,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed in children and teens under the age of 19 every year.

February 4th each year the world commemorates the world’s cancer day. Since 2016 it has been running under the tagline: ‘We Can, I Can’ and as IPSF AfRO, this year we will focus on cancer awareness by highlighting the types of cancer, possible causes, signs, and symptoms, and how everyone as a collective individual can be part of such a movement to help reduce the global burden of cancer.

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and abnormal cells. Cancer is not just one disease but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer. Most cancers are named according to the location in the body from which they originate. Eg. lung cancer starts in the lung, and breast cancer starts in the breast. The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another is called metastasis.

Types of cancer and their awareness colours

Signs & Symptoms

Type of Cancer Signs & Symptoms
Lung Cancer New cough, hoarseness, haemoptysis, dyspnoea, non- resolving pneumonias, chest wall pain and tracheal obstruction.
Breast Cancer Breast lumps, nipple retraction, dimpling, discharge and skin changes.
Cervical Cancer Abnormal vaginal bleeding and discharge, pain during sex and pain in the lower belly or pelvis.

 

Colorectal Cancer Occult bleeding, constipation, obstruction, and stool caliber.
Liver Cancer Loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, jaundice, pain or swelling of the abdomen, itchy skin,feeling very full even after eating a small meal and general body weakness.
Prostate Cancer Urinary hesitancy, nocturia, poor urine stream and terminal hematuria.
Ovarian Cancer Abdominal pain& discomfort or enlargement, postprandial flatulence, virginal bleeding, early satiety,constipation, dyspepsia and nausea

Risk factors leading to cancer

How you can help to reduce the global burden of Cancer

  • Improve access to cancer care by closing gaps in access to affordable cancer care.
  • Create healthy cities and working environments for example by prohibiting smoking in all indoor workplaces, increasing movement in workplaces through the use of stairs, so as to help build a healthier workforce.
  • Prevent cancer by educating individuals and communities with the latest knowledge of the links between lifestyle and cancer which will in return empower people to adopt healthy choices.
  • Challenge perceptions in societies where cancer remains a taboo and help improve knowledge of cancer where people are misinformed thus overcoming stigma and discrimination among cancer patients.
  • Shape policy change by implementing policies that can be used to minimize exposure to cancer risks including to tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy foods, as well as environmental exposures.
  • Understand that early detection can save lives since it has been shown that increasing awareness of signs and symptoms and the importance of timely treatment helps to improve survival from cancer.
  • Ask for support by mantaining social networks which can be an important coping mechanism for cancer patients and their loved ones for both in the short and long term.
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices by choosing to quit smoking, become physically active and eat healthy food and drinks.
  • Love and be loved by working together with family and friends through the challenges of cancer and never be alone in facing this “giant.”

There’s hope
Though cancer remains one of the leading causes of death and disability globally where it impacts more than 14 million people each year, most of cancer cases can be cured by surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy if there is early detection.

Mgambi Gamba Gideon, Mutabazi Claude, Anesu Adilwayo and Geofrey Beingana contributed to this article.
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