Cancer. That accursed six-letter-word. If I had a divine authority, cancer will not befall even my worst enemy. I would be damned. Our long held medical knowledge has just been rubbished by my Reverend Minister. Did he just proclaim that cancer affliction is pre-ordained? I pinched myself twice, just to make sure I was not dreaming, and there he was live and direct. Okay let me begin from the beginning.
We attended a burial ceremony of a member of our church, who died of prostrate cancer. My former Reverend Minister(name with held), just espoused a postulation that will put Scientists to task. He told me with great conviction, that if cancer were caused by all those things Scientists regularly proclaim, then he should have had cancer or died by now.
In the early 80s, my Reverend Minister was a dealer in second-hand-clothes in Lagos. Their day began at 3am, they under the cover of darkness traversed Badagry, Ogun and Seme borders, with a flask of dry gin (ogogoro, ekpeteshi, kai-kai, mai-oku, kinkana etc) as their energizer, which they regularly sipped to clear their eyes(whatever that meant). Most of them were of course chain smokers. On Sundays which was their only day of rest, instead of going to Church, they usually embarked on drinking spree, competing who could finish a carton of beer(12 bottles) at a sitting.
He lived such rough live for 15 years, until he advisedly received “a calling”, and proceeded to a Bible School. 30 years later, most of them now in their 60s, yet neither his former colleagues nor him had suffered from cancer. He mentioned 3 persons we just buried, who died of cancer, these were people considered “prime and proper”. They were teetotallers who neither smoked nor drank. Yet they developed cancer and died. So he insisted that suffering from cancer was pre-ordained – QED. Quite an irony, because even science totally concurs with the spiritual proclamation of my revered Reverend Minister – since the major cause of cancer is medically described as “idiopathic” that is unknown.
How do we define cancer?
• In cancer, the process of cell division has gone wrong. Cells multiply in an uncoordinated way, independent of the normal control mechanism. Cancerous cells produce “a new growth” in the body, that does not fulfil a useful function. This is called cancer, tumour or neoplasm.
• A cancer is often felt as a hard lump, because it’s cells are more closely packed than normal. Cancer(tumour) may be benign or malignant. A cancer is a malignant tumour, that is, it may continue growing until it threatens the continued existence of the body.
How do we classify cancer? There are 5 broad groups of cancer.
1) Carcinomas – These are characterised by cells that cover internal and external part of the body such as lung, breast and colon cancer.
2) Sarcomas – These are characterised by cells that are located in the bone, cartilage, fat, connective tissue, muscle and other supportive tissues.
3) Lymphomas – These are cancers that begin in the lymph nodes and immune system tissues.
4) Leukaemia – These are cancers that begin in the bone marrow and often accumulate in the blood stream.
5) Adenomas – These are cancers that arise in the thyroid gland, the pituitary gland, the adrenal gland and other glandular tissues.
What are the causes of cancer?
1) Idiopathic – This means unknown. In short Scientists have come to a general conclusion, that majority of the causes of cancer is unknown. So we just zero in on the pre disposing factors of cancer. Now you know why I agreed with my Reverend Minister.
2) Chromosomal damage – Normal cells have 46 chromosomes arranged in 23 pairs. Almost all cancers have abnormal number of chromosomes.
3) Normal deviancy – Millions of cells are manufactured every day, there are bound to be some with genetic defects, but these are auto-destroyed by White Blood Corpuscles(WBC) – phagocytes. Any defective gene that escapes destruction becomes a focal point for development of cancer. May God help us.
4) – Special factors – Chemicals : Some chemicals can cause cancer if they are repeatedly in contact with the body over a period of time – such chemicals are called carcinogens eg hydrocarbons from tobacco, asbestos and atmospheric pollution.
5) Certain viruses – can pass malignant tumours from animal to man eg human papilo-virus.
6) Ionizing radiation – X rays without correct protection can cause skin cancer, also radiation can cause leukaemia.
7) Physical irritation – continuous irritation of skin or mucous membrane could lead to squamous cell change, hence leading to cancer.
8) Hereditary – Some individuals due to hereditary genes are more likely to develop cancer than others. Actual cancerous growths are not inherited. But a predisposition for cancer can be passed on from generation to generation.
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9) – Age – Most cancers occur in the 50 to 60 age group. However children and adolescents are susceptible to leukaemia, brain tumours and sarcoma of the bone.
10) Sex – In almost all countries, cancer occurs more frequently in men than in women.
11) Geographical location – For unknown reasons gastric cancer is most frequent in the coastal and reverine areas. If you are above 50 and leaving in the reverine areas, if you experience any abdominal discomfort, please consult your doctor for proper evaluation.
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