World Cancer Day was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). It is an international day marked on February 4th aimed at misinformation, raising awareness, and reducing stigma. It encourages the prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer.
Crossover Kenya sat with Dr. Adarsh, consultant in clinical oncology at Cancer Care Kenya, to find out more about the state of cancer in Kenya and about cancer in general.
According to Dr. Adarsh, the most prevalent cancers in Kenya are cervical cancer and breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. When it comes to cancer, the most important factor apart from prevention is early detection. This is especially important for those with a family history of cancer occurrence.
Dr. Adarsh advices that the earlier cancer is detected, the more successful the treatment will be. He spoke of cases where patients are diagnosed with cancer or the possibility of cancer and instead of visiting a cancer expert right away; they delay for a year or more and only appear when the cancer has spread throughout the body making treatment difficult.
Dr. Adarsh listed 3 treatments that are available for cancer: surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Surgery involves removal of the cancerous tissue plus a ring of healthy tissue around it. This method is usually employed when the cancer is in the early stages. Radiation involves utilizing radiation therapy on the part of the body with cancer to kill the cancerous cells. With chemotherapy, the treatment is administered through the bloodstream and thus travels throughout the entire body. Chemotherapy is usually employed when the cancer is in the final stages and has spread to other parts of the body. The type of treatment to be used depends on the type cancer and at what stage it is.
As they say, prevention is better than cure. Dr.Adarsh spoke of a number of measures one can take to help prevent the occurrence of cancer. They are mainly to eat a good diet and exercise regularly. Coupled with this, it is advisable to go for regular cancer screenings and scans. Additionally, one should make sure to examine their own body and make note of any changes such as a growth, bleeding or other discharge from the body, which may be an indication of cancer.
Many people fear being diagnosed with cancer due to the stigma associated with the disease. Others choose to ignore the diagnosis and only go to hospital when the cancer has spread throughout the body. Dr. Adarsh urges people to not fear cancer and to take its diagnosis seriously. He commented that with the advancements made in medical technology, cancer has become almost similar to chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. Most cancers can nowadays be cured when detected in the early stages. Doctors are also able to manage the cancer so that people can live for longer than before. Therefore, there is no reason to fear a cancer diagnosis.
Cancer Care Kenya provides radiation therapy at their centre. They have two machines for this and are planning to get newer, more state of the art models. They also plan to start providing PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Scans. Their chemotherapy treatment room currently holds 8 beds with more planned for in the new building currently under construction.
At their Faraja Centre, patients as well as their caregivers can take advantage of the different facilities available to them to help them in their journey. There are counseling sessions available as well as group therapies for the various types of cancer. Yoga and massage are also available as well as financial aid for some of the patients.
What better way to commemorate World Cancer Day than by getting screened at a hospital or performing your own self-examination at home.