Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Recently a group of youths organised a Cancer Awareness and Screening outreach in a community health and medical workshop to enlighten the public on the issue of the dreaded disease.
The well attended seminar/ screening exercise was facilitated by an equally youthful medical doctor, Dr. Mariam Bashir who ably led a team of young people on a mission to rescue the public and especially the women folks from the scourge of cervical cancer and breast cancer, as well as prostate issues on the side of men. The public enlightenment programme and cancer screening exercise that followed was an Information Communication and Enlightenment (ICE) initiative.
Health experts would have us know that cancer is – any malignant growth or tumour caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division; it may spread to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system or the blood stream. Dr. Bashir informed the participants of the various predisposing or causative factors such as: Human papilloma Virus (HPV). This is any of a group of papovaviruses associated with genital or oral carcinomas or a group associated with benign genital tumours.
Others include, excessive exposure to (rays of) the sun, smoking, radiation, viruses, cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens), obesity, hormones, chronic inflammation and a lack of exercise, amongst many others. In all, Bashir said there is no specific known cause for most cancers. Narrowing the issues down to the female folks she said a few exceptions to this however, includes cervical cancer which has been known to be as a result of HPV infection.
For cervical cancer experts say the mode of transmission is mostly from male to female – during sexual intercourse. Bashir noted that, “there are over a hundred types of the infectious agents called (HPV). Worst of all, there are as at now no vaccines that take care of all this, hence screening is so very important. Risk factors include mainly – multiple sex partners. During sexual activity this virus is transferred through the penis of an infected male. In prevention, experts say condoms cannot even prevent the transmission of the virus since it’s found not just on the penis but around the genitals.
Treatment and prevention experts say will normally include early checks and detection; do a pap smear (test). It is very important also to have early vaccination. Thus cervical cancer is preventable and treatable/ curable. Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer include – bleeding after sex, etc.
Another common cancer bedevilling the female population, and especially among blacks she said is breast cancer. In dealing with breast cancer however, the expert said early detection is key; she added that the commonest sign to watch out for when detecting the cancer is lump(s) in the breast. In doing this she said, “Your right hand should check your left breast, while your left hand checks your right breast.”
Studies have shown that from the age of 35 years and above, a woman ought to go for breast examination; do a mammogram.
In men Dr. Bashir said, the prostate is the most important organ of focus regarding cancer. From the age of forty to fifty and above every male is urged to start taking interest in their prostate – a small walnut-sized gland that produces seminal fluid. This is to forestall any case of prostate cancer; you’re therefore advised at this stage to go do a test called ‘PSA’, especially in Africa where research has proven that cases of this health condition are more prevalent among blacks. In addition, nutritional health experts say men should consume lots of tomatoes, and anything reddish (lycopene-containing foods) including, water melon, carrots, etc.
The medical expert while admonishing the participants to be careful with their lifestyle behaviours and ensuring that they stick more to consuming natural foods, and engaging in exercise, added that most cancers still do not have known causes. All of these and more, Bashir said will help to boost your immune system which is very critical to living a cancer-free and healthy life.
The multi pronged health outreach powered by Optimal Cancer Care Foundation was carried out under the aegis of St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Alagbado as part of weeklong activities marking its youth week, apart from the Cancer awareness month in October.