Before COVID-19 surfaced, there was another medical condition that all healthcare professionals disliked diagnosing. That is “CANCER”; which is also non-discriminatory, can occur at all ages and can affect any part of the body. Patients all around the world equated a diagnosis of Cancer to that of one step closer to heaven’s gates and dreaded this diagnosis.
Today, we know more about cancer than ever before. Through investing in research and innovation, we have witnessed extraordinary breakthroughs in cancer care, diagnostics and scientific knowledge.
Yet, 10 million people die each year from cancer.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “That is more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. By 2030, experts project cancer deaths to rise to 13 million if we do not act. The time to act is NOW.”
- Cancer is a disease that knows no boundaries and has, or will, affect us all either directly or indirectly during our lifetime.
- Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for 10 million deaths per year. However, we know that more than one third of these deaths are preventable and if detected early enough, many cancers are curable.
- Actions taken by every person, organisation and government will help reduce the burden of cancer to achieve the goal of a 25% reduction in premature deaths from NCDs by 2030.
- Until cancer awareness is improved globally and actions are taken to prevent and treat the disease, millions of people around the world will die unnecessarily every year.
- We must act now because the global cancer epidemic is enormous and set to rise. It is predicted to increase to 13 million cases per year in 2030.
The global community commemorated World Cancer Day, on February 4 and throughout the month with the chosen theme ''I Am and I Will” (2019-2021). WHO joins this campaign to call everyone, collectively and individually, to commit to strengthen actions aimed to reduce the impact of cancer, not just on one day, but everyday.
CAUTION your way to prevent Cancer
Harvard Health states, “About one of every three persons will develop some form of malignancy during his or her lifetime.” CDC states, “Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the Caribbean.”
But instead of just waiting for new breakthroughs, you can do a lot to protect yourself right now. Screening tests can help detect malignancies in their earliest stages, but you should always be alert for symptoms of the disease. The American Cancer Society developed this simple reminder years ago, symptoms you should note:
C: Change in bowel or bladder habits
A: A sore that does not heal
U: Unusual bleeding or discharge
T: Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
I: Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
O: Obvious change in a wart or mole
N: Nagging cough or hoarseness
It is a rough guide at best. The vast majority of such symptoms are caused by nonmalignant disorders, and cancers can produce symptoms that do not show up on the list, such as unexplained weight loss or fatigue. But it is a useful reminder to listen to your body and report any distress to your doctor.
Curing Cancer: Treatments to Keep an Eye On
Is there a cure for cancer? If so, how close are we? To answer these questions, it is important to understand the difference between a cure and remission:
A cure eliminates all traces of cancer from the body and ensures it won’t come back.
Remission means there are few to no signs of cancer in the body.
Complete remission means there aren’t any detectable signs of symptoms of cancer.
Some doctors use the term “cured” when referring to cancer that does not come back within five years. But cancer can still come back after five years, so it is never truly cured.
Currently, there’s no true cure for cancer but recent advances in medicine and technology are helping move us closer than ever to a cure.
When you think of vaccines, you probably think of them in the context of preventing infectious diseases, like measles, tetanus and the flu. But some vaccines can help prevent or even treat certain types of cancer. For example, the human papilloma (HPV) vaccine protects against many types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
Researchers have also been working to develop a vaccine that helps the immune system directly fight cancer cells. These cells often have molecules on their surfaces that are not present in regular cells. Administering a vaccine containing these molecules can help the immune system better recognise and destroy cancer cells.
Gene therapy is a form of treating disease by editing or altering the genes within the cells of the body. Genes contain the code that produces many different kinds of proteins. Proteins, in turn, affect how cells grow, behave and communicate with each other.
In the case of cancer, genes become defective or damaged, leading some cells to grow out of control and form a tumor. The goal of cancer gene therapy is to treat disease by replacing or modifying this damaged genetic information with healthy code.
Researchers are still studying most gene therapies in labs or clinical trials.
Nanoparticles are very tiny structures. They are smaller than cells. Their size allows them to move throughout the body and interact with different cells and biological molecules.
Nanoparticles are promising tools for the treatment of cancer, particularly as a method for delivering drugs to a tumor site. This can help make cancer treatment more effective while minimising side effects.
Stay in the know
The world of cancer treatment is constantly growing and changing. You can stay up-to-date with these resources that are regularly updated with articles about the latest cancer research, therapies and breakthroughs:
NCI Clinical Trial Database Trusted Source: The National Cancer Institute (NCI) maintains this site.
The Cancer Research Institute blog: This is a blog by the Cancer Research Institute health care experts.
The American Cancer Society:
The American Cancer Society offers up-to-date information on cancer screening guidelines, available treatments and research updates.