Cancer Awareness October- research, inform & support

CANCER STATS: Approximately 38.4% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes (based on 2013–2015 data). IMAGE BY NCR

South Africa is ranked 50th on the World Cancer Research Fund’s list of countries with the highest cancer incidence rates.

It is still October and the cancer awareness is still on! Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death throughout both developed and developing countries, including South Africa.  Therefore it is vital that one is aware and well informed about this major killer disease.

A little background information is always important. What is Cancer? It is a disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroybody tissues.

According to the National Cancer Registry (2013) ten thousand South Africans are diagnosed with cancer each year.

Studying the causes of cancer helps researchers understand the process of carcinogenesis that can lead to new ways of preventing the disease. The main causes for cancer are gene mutations (a change in the structure of a gene) that occur after birth and aren’t inherited. A number of forces can cause gene mutations, such as smoking, heat, viruses, cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens), obesity, hormones, chronic inflammation and a lack of exercise.

Cancer stats: 6 out of 10 is a cancer survival rate.

Now what can be done to lower the risk of getting cancer? It includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding exposure to known cancer-causing substances, and taking medicines or vaccines that can prevent cancer from developing. It has been estimated, for example, that between 1975 and 2000, tobacco control programs implemented in the United States saved nearly 800,000 lives.

There are more than 100 types of cancer, including breast, skin, lung, colon, prostate, and lymphoma cancer. Prostate cancer is the number one cancer diagnosed amongst South African men followed by lung, oesophagus, colon/rectum and bladder cancer. Amongst women, the most prevalent is breast cancer followed by cervical, uterus, colorectal and esophageal cancer.

Cancer facts: Breast cancer comes in all sizes and studies have shown walking decreases the risk of breast cancer.

Research on the treatment of cancer is fundamental to improving outcomes for patients affected by the disease. These efforts include the development of more effective and less toxic treatments, such as targeted therapies, immuno-therapies, and cancer vaccines, as well as the improvement of therapies that have existed for decades, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. And some studies address better management of a treatment’s toxic effects, thereby improving a patient’s ability to receive effective cancer treatment. Still other studies test whether less intensive therapy or no therapy at all will result in the same outcome.

Cancer Awareness is not only about educating on cancer but also supporting and showing love to those diagnosed with the disease. Do research more, attend cancer awareness campaigns and educate the person next to you about cancer. And the awareness still continues all the time.

(edited by NN)

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