The Awareness, in its continued effort to try and improve the health of everybody through best practises, presents the first of its health-related series.
Today it features an expert witness report coined by Dr. Chin Akano the UK based specialist and head of the Nze Timothy Akano Foundation. He takes a critical look at cancer, especially in relationship to Nigerians.
According to the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, cancer kills approximately 100,000 Nigerians annually, with women making up a bigger percentage than men. One school of thought relates this that while they may smoke less than their men, they are more exposed to firewood smoke which is even more toxic than tobacco.
98,000 women die in Nigeria as a direct result of firewood smoke
But cancer is not just a Nigerian problem it remains one of the scourges of humanity affecting all ages, genders, and races. It is the second commonest cause of death in developed countries and among the three leading causes of death in developing countries. WHO reported that about 24.6 million people live with cancer worldwide. There are 12.5% of all deaths are attributable to cancer and if the trend continues, it is estimated that by 2020, 16 million new cases will be diagnosed per annum out of which 70% will be in the developing countries.
Dr. Chin Akano has put together a list of directives. We have placed them below for you in random order so hopefully, it may make you aware of the symptoms of other people and not just yours.
Things to look for:
• Changes in the size, shape or feel of your breasts including lumps may mean breast cancer
• Any dimpling or wrinkling or puckering or redness of the skin of your breasts may mean breast cancer
• Changes in the position of the nipple or a rash or discharge from the nipple may mean breast cancer.
• Please note both men and women can have breast cancer
• A mouth or tongue ulcer that lasts longer than 3 weeks may mean oral cancer
• A cough or croaky voice that lasts longer than 3 weeks may mean lung or throat cancer
• Persistent difficulty in swallowing or persistent indigestion may mean upper GIT cancer
• Diarrhoea lasting longer than 6 weeks may mean bowel cancer
• Blood in your stool may mean bowel cancer
• Problems passing urine may mean prostate or bladder cancer
• Blood in your urine may mean bladder or prostate cancer
• Persistent back pain may mean bone, blood, and several other cancers
• Vaginal bleeding after menopause may mean endometrial cancer
• Vaginal bleeding between periods may mean cervical and womb cancer
• Change in the size, shape or colour of a skin mole
• An unexplained pain or ache lasting longer than 4 weeks may be due to any cancer
• An unusual lump or swelling anywhere on your body may be due to several cancers
• Unexplained weight loss may be due to several cancers
• Unexplained heavy night sweats may be due to several cancers
• A sore or wound that refuses to heal after several weeks may be due to several cancers
• Urinary changes in men especially leaking of urine, incontinence, an inability to urinate despite urges to go, delayed urination, straining during urination
Important factors to prevent cancer include a healthy living which compromises of controlled calorie intake, exercise, and proper living habits. However, identifying cancer in its early stages is also imperative. There is no doubt that you helping your Dr and God early will save your life.
Cancer screening is imperative
Available screening tests for cancer:
• If you are a woman remember to go for breast cancer screening (mammography) especially if you are 50 or above.
• Cervical screening also is known as a smear test especially if you are between 20 years to 65 years. The recommendation is every 3-5 years
• Bowel Cancer screening to check early signs of bowel cancer. Recommended for older men and women
• Please note that there is no screening programme for prostate cancer because the PSA test is not reliable enough, but men over 50 can ask their doctor about it.