February 4th was World Cancer Day, a day used to raise awareness about prevention, detection, and treatment against cancer.
In 2020, more than 18 million people worldwide were diagnosed with a form of cancer of which 9.3 million were men and 8.8 million were female. In 2019, more than 10 million people died from cancer, making it the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular disease.
Not all cancers cause death, however identifying and treating any form of cancer as early as possible means that the cancer is more likely to respond favourably to treatment and reduce the risk of dying.
Cancer is developed from cancer cells. A normal body cell grows, and then multiples through a process called cell division, and then dies off. A cancer cell however divides uncontrollably. These cells then invade nearby tissues and spreads to other parts of the body.
Cancer is measured in stages based on the size and location of the tumour.
Stage 0: Abnormal (cancer) cells are present but have not spread to nearby tissues.
Stage 1: (early stage): Cancer cells have not infiltrated deeply into nearby tissues or spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage 2: (localized): Cancer cells have spread deeper into neighbouring tissues.
Stage 3: (regional spread): Cancer cells have grown more deeply into neighbouring tissues and into lymph nodes
Stage 4: (distance spread): Cancer cells have spread beyond nearby tissues and into lymph nodes including other
parts of the body. This is referred to as advanced cancer stage.
There are more than 100 types of cancer and it can start anywhere in the body. The two most common types of cancer worldwide are breast and lung cancer representing 12.5% and 12.2% respectively of all cancer cases.
According to the World Health Organization, 30 -50% of cancers can be prevented by the following actions:
Do not smoke: Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, however the chemicals introduced into the body by smoking can lead to cancer elsewhere in the body.
A healthy weight: Being overweight or obese has been linked with a higher risk of several types of cancers.
Life Style: Eating healthy can reduce the risk of cancer and enhance the body’s immune system. Doctor’s recommend 150-300 minutes of moderate- intensive activity per week.
Alcohol: The less alcohol you drink the lower the risk of cancer. Drinking alcohol can damage your body’s DNA and prevent the body from repairing itself.