Ending the cancer scourge in Nigeria


February 4 annually, the global community commemorates the World Cancer Day, solely to create worldwide awareness on the damaging effects of the disease in our various societies.

Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) supports Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to promote ways to ease the global burden of cancer.

The annual World Cancer Day was formally adopted in Geneva, Switzerland by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in the year 1933 through the remark- able efforts of the UICC and other world’s prominent cancer societies, in order to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration.

The primary aim of the Day is to significantly reduce illnesses and death caused by cancer via raising of awareness on cancer and encouraging its prevention, detection, and treatment.

Cancer, also known as malignant tumor or malignant neoplasm, is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the tendency of invading or spreading to other parts of the body.

Possible signs and symptoms of cancer include a new lump, prolonged cough, abnormal bleeding, unexplained weight loss, and a change in bowel movements, among others.

While these symptoms may indicate the occurrence of cancer, it’s equally worth noting that they may occur due to other medical issues.

Cancer, which can occur in over one hundred different ways in the human body, is mainly caused by either uncalled practices or dietary risks, such as tobacco smoking, incessant intake of alcoholic drinks, obesity, low fruit and vegetable consumptions, lack of physical activities, as well as certain infections like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, Sexually Trans- mitted Diseases, and human papillomavirus.

Some cases of cancer could also be as a result of genetic defects one inherited from his/her parents. Cancer can be detected by certain signs and symptoms or by screening tests. It is typically further investigated by medical imaging and confirmed by biopsy.

Early detection through screening is useful for cervical and colorectal cancer. Cancer, though a preventable disease, is indeed a human frightening and deadly medical condition that can occur in any essential organ in the body including stomach, lung, breast, kidney, liver, heart, eye, nose, skin, cervical, bone, and brain, just to mention but a few.

Many cancerous growths can be prevented by not indulging in smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, not drinking too much alcohol, eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, being vaccinated against certain infectious diseases, not eating too much red meat, coupled with avoidance of regular exposure to sunlight and urban air pollution.

Cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or targeted therapy; or sometimes, a combination of all.

In a typical cancer treatment, pain and symptom management are an important and basic part of care. Palliative care is particularly recommended for patients suffering from advanced cancer condition. The chance of survival solely depends on the type of cancer and the extent of the disease as at the time the treatment commenced.

In children under the age of fifteen, at diagnosis, the ‘five year survival rate’ in the developed world is on the average eighty percent (80%).
In 2012 alone, about 14.1 million new cases of cancer occurred globally, not including skin cancer. Statistics show that, the outbreak caused about 8.2 million deaths or 14.6% of all human deaths in the aforementioned year.

This implies that, in near future if adequate care is not taken, cancer cases might be responsible to over twenty per cent (20%) of death rate in the world.

The risk of cancer increases significantly in regard to the age of the potential sufferer, and several cancers occur more often in developed countries.
Unequivocally, cancer rate increases on a daily basis as more people live to an old age and as life- style changes are regularly witnessed in the developing world.

As Nigerians join the global community to commemorate the 2020 World Cancer Day, there is an urgent need for every one of us to detest any form of uncalled or unhealthy lifestyle such as tobacco smoking, intake of hard drugs like cocaine, regular consumption of alcoholic drinks and what have you, that could jeopardize our precious lives.

In the same vein, there’s need for us to at all times be extremely mindful of whatever we eat or drink, or the environment we find our- selves. We should also not forget that adequate and instant treatment of any illness or infection we noticed in our body remains one of the major avenues of embracing a cancer-free society.

Those suffering from the disease ought to continually and strictly adhere to their treatment procedures as directed by their physicians and should endeavour to consult the doctor when necessary.

They should as well ensure that they are placed on proper dietary like regular consumption of vegetables and fruits. In addition, we are expected to comprehend the fact that early detection of cancer enables adequate eradication of the disease from the body of the sufferer.

The, there is need for us, irrespective of age, to go for constant cancer testing or screening. The government on its part must endeavour to pro- vide adequate cancer testing and control centres within the reach of the citizenry, so people can from time-to time endeavour to do the needful.
The specialist hospitals as proposed above, ought to equally be well-equipped to fit the required standard.

Similarly, qualified should be engaged or contracted to see to the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the equipment or machines.

Finally, all health practitioners and stakeholders are by this avenue, strongly advised to strengthen their crusade targeted to educate the entire public on the dangers and possible causes of cancer, so that, we shall all live to celebrate a cancer-free world as it is widely anticipated by the global society.

Among all, in our individual capacities, we must invariably bear in mind that prevention is unarguably far better than cure. Think about it!

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