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Daily Nation : February 4th 2014
DAILY NATION Tuesday February 4, 2014 coverstory 7,600,000 13,100,000 Number of deaths globally resulting from cancer in 2008 alone. The disease is a leading cause of death worldwide, with lung, stomach, liver, colon and breast cancers causing the most deaths each year. About 30 per cent of cancer deaths are due to the five leading behavioural and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol use. Projected deaths as a result of cancer in the year 2030 if current trends continue. Knowledge about the causes of cancer, and interventions to prevent and manage the disease, are extensive. The disease can be controlled by implementing evidence-based strategies for prevention, early detection and management of patients. Many cancers have a high chance of cure if detected early and treated adequately. SOURCE: WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION COMMENT ‘Do not fly away, modern care is available locally’ BY DAVID MAKUMI firstname.lastname@example.org A NEWLY DIAGNOSED cancer patient recently asked me at what point of his cancer journey he will be sent to India for treatment. His mistaken belief that all cancer patients must go to India at some point during their treatment was informed by robust marketing by Indian healthcare providers. These Indian hospitals have set fully fledged offices in Nairobi and other major towns to recruit and coordinate patient transfer. Many patients are made to believe that this country does not have any form of cancer treatment facility and expertise, and that those patients who get treated locally get a raw deal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Though our healthcare system is overwhelmed by the sheer number of cancer patients, world class infrastructure to treat nearly all cancers is available, costs notwithstanding. This situation reflects a failure by the government as well as local cancer care providers to address the question of cost of cancer treatment as well as aggressively articulate what is and what is not available locally. It is an indictment of our health care system, which has failed to protect patients from misinformation and exploitation. We have herbalists claiming to cure cancer in four weeks and televangelists who pronounce cancer healing upon receiving a ‘financial seed’. Then there are multilevel marketers who literally rip off cancer patients with their nutritional supplements. It is obvious that patients with chronic diseases like cancer are almost always the target of bogus claims. The latest entry is the marketing of quail eggs and meat as a cure for cancer without scientific evidence. This is unashamed exploitation of vulnerable patients and their families. Cancer in our country will be defeated not in one enormous advance, but in short incremental steps. We have started making baby steps towards turning the tide against the disease. One such step will see Kenya become the third country in Africa to host the biggest cancer charity on earth mid this year. Known as Relay For Life, this event galvanises ordinary citizens to respond to the cancer problem. Other encouraging advances that are likely to go through the project, seven out of 10 cases of cervical cancer will be prevented. Specialists agree that, if diagnosed early, and with proper management, cancer is curable through radiotherapy, surgery or chemotherapy, singly or in 7/10 Number of deaths that health practitioners hope to prevent in Kitui County, where a massive feasibility study on the prevention of cervical cancer has seen some 21,000 girls vaccinated against HPV. Vaccines, however, do not cover all high-risk cancer viruses, so these girls will still need to have a Pap smear test in their adulthood. combination. And with four out of every five people diagnosed with cancer being in their advanced stage by the time of detection, low awareness about the signs and symptoms of cancer, sociocultural beliefs and practices, inadequate screening services and inadequately equipped referral facilities are the main hindrances to early diagnosis. Currently, the cost of cancer treatment is beyond the reach of many Kenyans, with more than 27,000 cancer deaths reported in the country every year. However, public health specialists argue that it is safer and more economical to adopt both preventive and curative approaches if the disease is to be managed properly. In Kenya, cancer is ranked as the third cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases. Breast and cervical cancers have been identified as the biggest killers among women while prostate, oesophagus and Kaposi sarcoma claim the most lives among men in Kenya. “If we are going to win the war against cervical cancer, screening and treatment must be provided to all eligible women, who must seek these services. Men are strongly advised to support women to fight the disease,” Dr Gathari says. “It takes only a few minutes to save your life. Get screened today if you have not been screened in the past three to five years.” unnoticed by the public are collaborations between local and leading universities from around the world in order to build local human resource capacity to respond to the cancer problem. As we observe World Cancer Day 2014, patients are hoping that this is the year they will see our hospitals proactively seek partnerships with international cancer centres of excellence. Such partnerships will enable patients to benefit from clinical trials and reap from cancer research without spending too much money. Private hospitals which have invested millions of shillings in cutting edge cancer technology as good as, or in some instances better than, what is available in the West should take the lead in this. Contrary to popular perceptions, private cancer care providers are very keen to have as many Kenyans as possible access their services. This can only be achieved within a framework of Public-Private Partnerships. Civil society cancer advocates who pushed for the National Cancer Control Act (2012) have already taken the cue and are now engaged in constructive activism, with the technocrats at the Ministry of Health collaborating to move from cancer rhetoric to cancer action. The onus is on the central and county governments to explore how Public-Private Partnerships, which have worked in other sectors, can be utilised to reverse the pain and suffering of cancer patients. Where a patient comes from should not determine whether he or she will live or die of cancer. A good starting point is establishing county cancer control programmes in every county. The Writer is the Regional Administrator, Cancer Programmes, Aga Khan Hospitals, East Africa. Healthyquotes We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up or fight like hell.” — Lance Armstrong, professional cyclist. God allows us to face challenges so they can make us stronger people to deal with tougher issues, I will conquer cancer and not vice versa.” — Rose Nasimiyu, Kenyan child star who became the face of survival at the age of 12. Cancer is a word, not a sentence.” — John Diamond, British journalist and broadcaster. He died of the disease in 2001, aged 47. 3 Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul.” —Jim Valvano, American basketball coach and broadcaster. He died of the disease in 1993. When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too. — Terri Clark, Canadian musician who lost her mother to the disease in 2010. You can be a victim of cancer, or a survivor of cancer. It’s a mindset. — Dave Pelzer, American writer whose father died of the disease in 1980. Positivelydiagnosed? Here are some questions you would like to ask your doctor. How will I know if the cancer is getting worse? What do you think I should expect at this point? What symptoms do I need to watch for and tell you about? How often will I need treatment or need to see the doctor? What is the goal of treatment right now? Control of the cancer? Comfort? What tests will I need to have to watch for changes in the cancer? What can be done for the symptoms I have (pain, fatigue, nausea)? Are there any support groups I can go to? How will I pay for treatment? Will my health insurance cover it? About cervical cancer The area: The cervi part of the uterus, the a baby grows during Cervical cancer is cau virus called HPV, whic through sexual conta women’s bodies are a HPV infection, but so virus leads to cancer. higher risk if you smo children, use birth co long time, or have an Symptoms: Cervica not cause any sympto but, later, you may ha pain or bleeding from It usually takes severa normal cells in the ce into cancer cells. Abn be found by doing a P involves examining ce cervix under a micros Treatment: May inc radiation therapy, che or a combination. The treatment depends o the tumor, whether th spread and whether y to become pregnant the future. Useful information Health facilities that offer cancer treatment in Kenya Aga Khan University Hospital, Limuru Road, Parklands, Nairobi, +254 (0) 20 366 2037/2644, +254 (0) 732 688 911. The hospital holds a meeting for cancer patients, families and the general public every first Thursday of the month Kenyatta National Hospital, Hospital Road, Nairobi, +254 20 272 6450 Coast Province General Hospital, Kisauni Road, Mombasa, +254 (0) 41 231 4204, +254 (0) 722 207 868, Mater Hospital, Along Mukenia & Dunga roads, South B, Nairobi, +254 (0)20 653 1199, +254 (0)733 641 870, email@example.com Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, AMPATH Oncology Centre, P.O Box 4606, Code: 30100,Eldoret Nairobi Hospital, Argwings Khodek Road, Nairobi, 0722 204 114, firstname.lastname@example.org Texas Cancer Centre, Argwings Khodek Grove, Hurlingham, Nairobi, +254 753 623 971 Cancer Care Kenya. Located along Shivachi Road in Parklands, Nairobi (at M P Shah Hospital), the centre offers diagnostic, therapeutic and palliative care facilities for cancer patients http: //www.cancercarekenya.com/ Visit http://www.beingcancer.net/ cancer-blogs-lists/gynecologic to read other patients’ experiences.
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