Cancer, a public health problem affects all categories of people all over the world with
Nigerians not an exception. It’s a term used to describe a large group of diseases characterized
by abnormal growth of cells beyond their usual boundaries. Cancer cells can invade adjoining
parts of the body and also spread to other organs.
Good news is some cancers can be found early, before they have had a chance to grow and
spread. Early diagnosis of cancer generally increases the chances for successful treatment
while delayed diagnosis causes lower likelihood of survival, higher costs of care, avoidable
deaths and disability from cancer. Fear of the outcome of diagnosis, religious beliefs, financial
constraints and low awareness of cancer signs, symptoms and facilities are some of the
reasons for delays in cancer diagnosis.
There are two major components of early detection of cancer: education and screening.
Education involves improving health literacy and reducing cancer stigma. Increased awareness
of possible warning signs of cancer among health care providers as well as among the general
public and taking prompt action leads to early diagnosis. Some early signs of cancer include
lumps, sores that fail to heal, abnormal bleeding, loss of weight, anemia, persistent
indigestion, and chronic hoarseness.
Screening tests are used to find cancer before a person has any symptoms. Some
recommendations by the American Cancer Society for most adults include: annual breast
cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) for women from age 40years,
colonoscopy (for colon and rectal cancer) for men and women from age 50years, a Pap test
(for cervical cancer) for women from age 21years and a PSA test (for prostate cancer) for men
To adopt the motto “Wait and see” is to entertain disaster. Even the suspicion of cancer
demands that all the resources of examination, clinical and laboratory, shall be called into
requisition. But if diagnosis should be early it should also be accurate. Start the process by
having a check-up with Lakeshore Cancer center. Ask about what screenings matter most for
you. What screenings you have and when will depend not only on your age and gender, but
also on other risk factors such as family history.
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