WHO puts rise at 70%
Why incidence of cancer is increasing
By Azoma Chikwe
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the numbers of new cancer cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next 20 years. In a report, it estimated that, worldwide, there were 14 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths in 2012 (their most recent data).
The most common sites of cancer among men are lung, prostate, colon, rectum, stomach and liver while the most common sites among women are breast, colon, rectum, lung, cervix and stomach. According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US and accounts for nearly one of every four deaths.
Corroborating WHO’s report , Consultant Surgeon, Dr Emmanuel Enabulele, said though there are more diagnostic equipment for early detection of cancers, three factors are responsible for increase in incidence.” Some of these cancers are genetically induced. Some are consequences of an infection while some are caused by bad habits, lifestyle and unhealthy environment.
“On the other hand, there has been a dramatic reduction in certain cancers. Example is Burkkit lymphoma. The cancer used to be very common in the 70s and 80s. The reason was because it related to malaria and Epsian Barr viral infection. It was a common childhood tumour. The incidence has dropped with the improvement in the treatment of malaria.
“Cancer of the cervix has dropped because of awareness. Moreover, it has a vaccine, it is caused by a virus – human papiloma virus (HPV). Another cancer that is on the decline is Karposi Sarcoma. It occurs in those with HIV, and with improvement in the treatment of HIV with antiretroviral drugs, the incidence is on the decline.
“Ironically, breast cancer still remains a challenge, In spite of the screening equipment available and awareness drive. With the awareness, equipment, self examination, ironically the incidence is still high in the environment,
“Most cancers can be cured if detected early. Cancers are usually staged from one to four. Treatment of cancer has its challenges, but early detection can help in cure. If the cancer is of infection and you know the virus, it is easy to develop a vaccine, Sometimes, chemotherapy and radiotherapy knocks out the patients because they not only affect cancer calls but also normal walls. Unfortunately, Nigerian cancer cases are prone to late presentation,” he said.
Cancer is a class of diseases characterised by out-of-control cell growth. There are over 100 different types of cancer, and each is classified by the type of cell that is initially affected.
It harms the body when altered cells divide uncontrollably to form lumps or masses of tissue called tumors, except in the case of leukemia where cancer prohibits normal blood function by abnormal cell division in the blood stream. Tumors can grow and interfere with the digestive, nervous, and circulatory systems, and they can release hormones that alter body function. The type that stay in one spot and demonstrate limited growth are generally considered to be benign.
More dangerous, or malignant, tumors form when two things occur: a cancerous cell manages to move throughout the body using the blood or lymphatic systems, destroying healthy tissue in a process called invasion or that cell manages to divide and grow, making new blood vessels to feed itself in a process called angiogenesis.
When a tumor successfully spreads to other parts of the body and grows, invading and destroying other healthy tissues, it is said to have metastasised. This process itself is called metastasis, and the result is a serious condition that is very difficult to treat.
More and more children also are daily coming down with cancer. the steady rise in the number of children, adolescents ravaged by cancer is giving medics cause for concern. It has over the decades now, provided scientists and researchers with extra work in their laboratories. At the same time, the scourge has succeeded in taking sleep off the eyes of caregivers of affected children.
Till date, the predisposing factors to childhood cancer remains scanty. Something that predisposes a person to think or behave in a way has the capacity to make such a person to behave or think in that particular manner. If something predisposes an individual to an illness or diseases, it makes it likely or possible that that individual may suffer from that disease or illness. A predisposing factor is something that leaves you open or exposes one to a disease condition
Often, diseases, especially terminal types like cancer, diabetes, hypertension and stroke are linked to various predisposing factors. Smoking, heavy indulgence in alcohol, poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle such as inactivity and lack of exercise are among factors often fingered as predisposing people to diseases including cancer.
In various quarters and to a whole number of people, it is no longer news that children and adolescents now suffer cancer. Effort to reconcile the causes of cancer in children in relation to some of these highlighted cancer-predisposing factors calls for deeper insight.
In attempting to factor why more and more children are being affected by cancer, you may be wrong to say that children do not drink and smoke (alcohol and tobacco). In more developed countries, kids smoke. In climes such as Nigeria, a developing nation, kids may be seen to smoke indirectly. For example, inhaling tobacco smoke from smokers. And as a developing nation, the use of firewood is still huge. Except for a few isolated cases when some parents would give a sip of beer or other alcoholic beverages to their kids while drinking, children do not drink alcohol.
Naturally, children are full of energy, looking for where and how to dissipate it. Save for a few who sit and get engrossed watching the television, gaming electronically or surfing the internet, children are usually active. Also, they are still being catered for by parents and guardians, therefore may not be said to be guilty of indulging in unhealthy lifestyle.
For children cancers which are quite different from adult cancers, experts therefore overrule factors like smoking and alcoholism as links. Experts then wonder, what really predispose children to childhood cancers?
The body system is made up of millions of cells. All through human existence, these cells according to Dr. Gesche Tallen, constantly divide, get matured, die off and new ones are produced, process is known as mitosis. They mature and get used to carrying out their natural tasks and functions. This is called differentiation. Human body cells also age (senescence). They mature and eventually die off, this phase is called apotosis/necrosis. Scientists say that these phases of a healthy human body cell life are controlled by several mechanisms in the cell and also by signals from other body cells.
In X-raying some of the possible or suspected causes of cancer in children, he explained that these mechanisms and signals function like a natural inner clock that determines every cell’s life-span. He said that cancer develops when an inner clock of a cell gets out of balance. “Once a cell has lost its inner clock, the cell cycle is disturbed as a consequence, cells divide uncontrollably. They do not mature properly and are thus dysfunctional. They do not age properly and they lack the ability to die.”
He listed some of the factors that can cause a cell-life to dysfunction as changes in the genetic make-up of a cell. Example of this include genes carrying incorrect information known as mutation or chromosomes with missing or extra genes (chromosomal abbression). These changes to genes and/or chromosomes can result in impaired or lost functions in proteins, that are usually responsible for regulating the cell-life, for appropriate signaling from cell to cell and also for the repair of genetic damage.
He also explained the link a person’s DNA (Deoxiribonucleic Acid) could have in cancer development in kids. “The DNA is a chemical in the human body cell that makes up the body genes. The DNA composition accounts for individual looks and characteristics that each individual picks up from the parents. It also influences a person’s risk of developing certain diseases including cancer”.
According to him, “research showed that some children who inherited DNA changes otherwise known as mutation are at the risk of having cancer. Not all childhood cancers are caused by inherited DNA. The reasons for the DNA changes that causes cancer in children are not known. In spite of continuous and intensive basic and clinical childhood cancer research in the last decade, it is still unclear what precisely causes cancer in children and teenagers”.
Another suspected risk factor of children to cancer is ionizing radiation. This is explained to be a mother’s exposure to X-Rays during pregnancy. Researchers have expressed fear that certain changes in certain cells of the body may have already occurred while the child was still in the womb –that is, at embryo stage. “Childhood cancer researchers have evidence that the first few cell of malignancies such as Wilms tumor neuroblastomas, gem cells and some brain tumors may already be present at birth, Tallen said.
Also, studies have linked childhood cancers to electric and magnetic fields. Reports made available by Children With Cancer, a UK-based health journal has it that there has been growing concern about the possible health effects of electric and magnetic fields associated with both power lines and electrical sources in the home. There has been reported increased risk of leukemia in children living within 600 meters of a high voltage overhead power line.
The report stated that since the report of the first study which linked childhood cancers to electrical wiring was made known, at least 25 further studies including three pooled analysis which were supportive of the link is said to have published. “In England and Wales, the largest single study to date reported a significantly increased risk of leukemia in children living within 600 meters of high voltage overhead power line”, it read.
According to the National Cancer Institute, although cancer in children is rare, it is the leading death-causing disease among children above infancy age in the United States. In 2004, it was estimated that 15,780 children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,960 of that number will die of the disease.
The most common cancers diagnosed in children, experts say, include; leukemia, brain tumours, lymphoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblaspoma, wilms tumor, Bukkit lymphoma, bone cancer, retinoblastoma gonadal (testicular and ovarian) cancer, germ cell tumors and other central nervous system tumors. leukemia is most common.
In recent times, globally, figures on the prevalence of children cancer is scary, though it has been said that most children cancers are curable when it is detected early. The mortality rate is huge. While in some countries, particularly, developed nations can give the data at a snap of the finger, most like Nigeria, there are no actual figures on the history, prevalence, death and survival rates in childhood cancer incidents.
Nigeria lacks data collation culture. This accounts for why it is practically impossible even from Nigerian researchers, scientists and health professionals to make available, statistics of actual childhood cancer incidences in the country etc. Another factor that accounts for lapse is the fact that there are presently, no research work going into the area of childhood cancer in Nigeria and perhaps, the whole of Africa.
Available reports provided by stakeholders on the statistics of the incidences of cancer scourge in children in Nigeria is that it is on the increase. According to experts in the field, while most Western countries are now, recording about 80 percent cure rate, the reverse is the case in Nigeria. Her cure rate is said to be less than 20 percent while the remaining figure accounts for the number of patients who did not present in health facilities.
There are said to be over 200 different types of cancer. We have the following common cancer types covered in individual Knowledge Center articles: Anal cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, liver cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, endometrial cancer, bone cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, colorectal cancer, lymphoma, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, testicular cancer, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer etc
More than 575,000 people die of cancer, and more than 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer per year in the US. Cancer is considered to be one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The financial costs of cancer in the US per year are an estimated $263.8 billion in medical costs and lost productivity.
African-Americans are more likely to die of cancer than people of any other race or ethnicity. It is believed that cancer risk can be reduced by avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol intake, limiting ultra-violet ray exposure from the sun and tanning beds and maintaining a healthy diet, level of fitness and seeking regular medical care.
Screening can locate cervical cancer, colorectal cancer and breast cancer at an early, treatable stage.Vaccines such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine assists in preventing some cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and oral cancers. A vaccine for hepatitis B can reduce liver cancer risk.
How cancer spreads
Scientists reported in Nature Communications (October 2012 issue) that they have discovered an important clue as to why cancer cells spread. It has something to do with their adhesion (stickiness) properties. Certain molecular interactions between cells and the scaffolding that holds them in place (extracellular matrix) cause them to become unstuck at the original tumor site, they become dislodged, move on and then re-attach themselves at a new site.
The researchers say this discovery is important because cancer mortality is mainly due to metastatic tumors, those that grow from cells that have traveled from their original site to another part of the body. These are called secondary tumors. Only 10 per cent of cancer deaths are caused by the primary tumors.
The scientists, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, say that finding a way to stop cancer cells from sticking to new sites could interfere with metastatic disease, and halt the growth of secondary tumors.
Malignant and non-malignant cells
Scientists from the Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers, United States, reported in the journal Scientific Reports (April 2013 issue) that malignant cells are more agile than non-malignant ones. Malignant cells can pass more easily through smaller gaps, as well as applying a much greater force on their environment compared to other cells.
Cancer is ultimately the result of cells that uncontrollably grow and do not die. Normal cells in the body follow an orderly path of growth, division, and death. Programmed cell death is called apoptosis, and when this process breaks down, cancer begins to form. Unlike regular cells, cancer cells do not experience programmatic death and instead continue to grow and divide. This leads to a mass of abnormal cells that grows out of control.
TIPS ON HEALTHY LIVING : Symptoms of stress (2)
By Patience Boulor
Life can, from time to time, be extremely challenging, placing excessive demands on the body and mind. When this happens, the human system may respond to this by stress, which is its natural response to a threat or demand of any kind. It is important to note that not all stress is harmful; in fact, in some situations it may increase productivity and response to stimuli, as long as it is within one’s comfort zone. However, if stress begins to overwhelm the system, it can be detrimental to one’s physical, emotional and cognitive health.
The following symptoms are common in people who are suffering from stress overload; if one is suffering from them, measures must be taken to de-stress and rejuvenate the senses.
Aches and pains
The body’s reaction to acute stress is the production of “fight or flight” hormones which, in order to prepare the body against an imminent threat, cause the muscles to tense, blood vessels to constrict, heart to beat faster and digestive tract to slow down. When acute stress transforms into chronic stress over time, the effect of the stress hormones is not reversed and muscles remain tense. As a consequence, individuals suffer from headaches, migraines, neck and shoulder pain, as well as shooting pains in the back. In some individuals, stress-induced hypertension may produce its own set of aches and pains, while the compromised digestive process, may have its own painful repercussions.
An aching tooth, without any common tooth decay or gum infection sign is most likely a stress related trigger. You shouldn’t always blame your chocolate cravings for the pain in the gums or jaw. A lot of people suffering from stress may not accept the fact that they are suffering from stress and pretend as if everything is normal. But during the night hours, stress won’t remain in the subconscious mind – in turn one might start grinding their teeth. At night, you can’t control your body.
It is, therefore, really important to “cut stress out of your life” that may result in permanent tooth pain as well as a sore jaw.
It is believed that stress can make you go gray that is it can result in hair loss. Men and women experiencing physical or mental stress can shed one-half or three-quarter of their hair, most commonly during or after a shower. As stress can put the hair follicles in a resting stage, you may experience loss of scalp hair over the period of time.
Thankfully, it is possible to put an end to hair loss once you control your stress levels.
A typical behaviour
Stress overload alters the suffering individual’s general demeanour and behavioural tendencies to a great extent. When hormone levels change due to stress, the production of various substances that govern mood also stand altered. Typically, stressed individuals are short-tempered, irritable, unpredictably moody, constantly anxious, restless too and sometimes indulge in substance abuse. Such uncharacteristic behaviour rarely goes unnoticed, especially by family and friends who can immediately recognise the change in behaviour. Such changes in one’s disposition can have grave consequences vis-a-vis one’s personal and/or professional life. It is then necessary for those suffering from chronic stress to adopt lifestyle changes, seriously pursue stress management activities and consciously attempt to keep their mind uncluttered and relaxed.
Bizarre and recurring dreams
A prominent sign of stress is bizarre and unusual dreams. Usually, dreams get extremely positive as you sleep and when you wake up, you are naturally in a good mood. However, when a person is stressed, one wakes up more than often, and experiences the same, odd dreams every night.
Recurring imagery in your dreams can put you in an upsetting and tiring position, thereby influencing other domains of your life and family, adversely. So, if you have been dreaming a lot lately and majorly if they’re weird, check your daily routine and assess if there is any particular trigger. Also, try and aim for a good night sleep of 7-8 hours each night, and cut off caffeine intake close to bedtime.
A lot of people do not realise that eyelid twitching is something that might be closely linked to stress level. However, eyelid spasm can also be caused due to stress. While twitching isn’t accompanied with any pain, it can be extremely exasperating, and can continue for a few minutes or for some weeks.
It is important to keep track of your spasm, as and when they occur whenever you experience it – there can be a pattern that associates with the stress levels. The best part is, it is possible to control eye twitching caused due to stress and put an end to it.