A few months ago I was approached by a 33-year old man seeking advice on locally based evidence on the prevalence and severity of varying cancer conditions in Rwanda.
Richard wants to launch a nationwide project for cancer awareness and also sought advice on the approach.
My response to him with his initiative was automatically positive and advised him to go through the Ministry of Health in order to obtain an authoritative plan that meets the country’s millennium health development goals and strategies.
Adequate information on the occurrence and severity of the disease is always important not only to health personnel but also to patients themselves. This will help the victim know how to adjust lifestyle so as to prolong life with or without treatment.
October is the breast cancer awareness month worldwide that reminds one what to do so as to check the occurrence and severity of breast cancer in our lifestyles. Cancer is an aggressive disease but it’s controllable.
The best control of any type of cancer is best offered at an early stage of detection.
In our settings where we do not have enough medical personnel to treat cancer or lack enough modern equipment’s to treat cancer, we need to at least have fundamental information on major risk factors that cause a particular cancerous disease in the population.
Exposure on a particular risk factor is always a subject for screening and this offers opportunities for possible early detection.
The aim of awareness from a scientific point of view is for people to focus on the risk factors as well as body lifestyles or protective factors.
A cancer risk factor is anything that increases the possibility of developing cancer where as anything that decreases the possibility of developing cancer is the body protective factor. I was happy with Richard’s initiative based on the above scientific definitions.
Different cancer diseases have different risk factors and this gives an extra broad based sense of massive awareness.
As scientists in cancer management specialty, one of our primary targets is always to lower the number of new cancer cases in our population. The outcome of all efforts is always to lower the number of deaths caused by a particular predominant cancer.
It is very important to understand that some risk factors for cancer disease can be avoided whereas others cannot.
For example smoking and inheritance of certain genes are both risk factors for some types of cancer, but only smoking can be avoided.
It is also well-known that a well-balanced lifestyle and good diet can offer massive protection for the body to develop some types of cancer. The basic information we need is therefore to learn how to avoid risk factors and improve on the body protective factors in order to lower the risk of cancer occurrence.
When we Screen for cancer, we are always looking for pre-cancerous lesions or cancer itself before a person has developed symptoms.
When an abnormal tissue or cancer is detected early enough, it requires simple and affordable means of treatment. Without screening modalities, we find ourselves treating cancer that has begun to spread or already spread or metastatic to the whole body.
We always have to look at the environment around us so as to localize external risk factors and avoid them.
Knowledge about risk factors and extent of exposure helps health experts make good recommendations for the patients to be screened for cancer, decide on screening tests and the frequency of which tests should be done to arrive at the conclusive plan.
Screening results are not always straight forward as there are many false positives and false negatives. For example a false-positive test result is usually followed by more tests and procedures that may be complicated and cause anxiety in some patients.
A person who receives false negative results might delay to seek treatment even if there are cancer symptoms.
The most important aspect with screening helps detect most of the cancers that never cause symptoms at an early stage and may be treated once detected.