Inhabitants of Yaounde have been given a one-week opportunity to know whether or not they have been affected or are likely to be attacked by one of the killer diseases; cancer. The free cancer screening programme and other activities to run from 15th through the 19th of February, 2010 is holding under the theme, “the Fight against Cancer in Cameroon Today.” Placed under the patronage of the First Lady, Chantal Biya and organised by the National Committee for the Fight against Cancer in partnership with the African Synergy against AIDS as well as the French piloted group, Sanofi Aventis, the exercise is expected to be a crowd puller considering the growing cases of cancer in the country.
Four major activities have been earmarked for the occasion: training seminar on oncology for nurses, free screening campaign at the Biyem Assi hospital against colon, breast and prostate cancer, symposium on breast cancer and a televised round table on the subject. Cancer, many people are aware, is one of the deadly diseases that have so far challenged researchers in the medical corps and is causing panic in the population for obvious reasons.
Cancer, specialist say, is any of various malignant and invasive growth or tumour especially. one originating in epithelium and characterized by the proliferation of anaplastic cells that tend to spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body. Cancer harms the body when damaged cells divide uncontrollably to form lumps or masses of tissue called tumours which can grow and interfere with the digestive, nervous, and circulatory systems, and which can release hormones that alter body function.
In 2007, cancer claimed the lives of about 7.6 million people in the world. Oncologists or physicians and researchers who specialize in the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the disease have as challenge to step down the number of cancer cases. So far, research results offer possibilities of treating about 50 percent of cancer with some cases receiving almost total treatment. This, of course, is enough progress but the fear is that the progress is increasing at a lesser rate than the spread of the disease itself.
The underlining factor about cancer is that it remains deadly. The second factor is the high level of ignorance on the disease on the part of the population which is why number of victims keeps growing. From every indication, the secret lies in adopting preventive attitudes especially at the embryonic stage of the attack. And for this to happen, the population needs to understand some of the symptoms of the disease at the beginning and what to do to annihilate them. Some factors that place individuals at high risk for the development of cancer can be modified. For example, lifestyle and environmental changes can be made to decrease risk. Behaviour modification such as dietary changes, exercise, and avoiding exposure to known carcinogens are primary prevention measures that everyone should adopt.
Preventive surgery may be an option for those individuals who are considered to be at very high risk of developing cancer because of a genetic or inherited predisposition. Examples of preventive surgery are prophylactic mastectomy to reduce risk for breast cancer, and colon polyp removal in individuals at high risk for the development of colon cancer.
The Yaounde campaign is not the first opportunity for the population to know their status. Several of such exercises have been organized especially on breast and prostate cancer, unfortunately, the attendance leaves much to be desired. That notwithstanding, some people, after observing the near epidemic nature of the disease, are wondering if the powers that be could not take financial-relieving measures like is the case with the AIDS pandemic to enable the population have easy access to treatment which remains extremely expensive for the normal Cameroonian. That certainly, is one of the issues government could start pondering on.