World Cancer Day (4th February, 2019)

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A term cancer refers to a disease in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. There are several types of cancer. Nearly all parts of the human body, from the blood, brain, eyes, lungs, skin until the bone can be affected by cancer however; hair and nails can’t be affected by cancer. Cancer is caused by several things, including – Obesity, cigarette smoking, exposure to UV rays (too much sunlight), air pollution, exposure to deadly chemicals, and inherited genes just to mention a few.

The most common methods of treating cancer are:

  • Surgery – involves removal of cancer from the body
  • Radiation therapy -   treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
  • Chemotherapy - treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy -   helps one immune system to  fight cancer
  • Targeted therapy - treatment that targets the changes in cancer cells that help them grow, divide, and spread.
  • Hormone therapy - treatment that slows or stops the growth of breast and prostate cancers that use hormones to grow.
  • Stem cell transplants - procedures that restore blood-forming stem cells in cancer patients who have had theirs destroyed by very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Precision medicine helps doctors select treatments that are most likely to help patients based on a genetic understanding of their disease.
  • Vaccines like Prophylactic or preventative and Therapeutic or treatment

Cancer kills thousands and thousands of humans every day and hour. Many have spent a lot of resources to fight this disease to no avail.  Today we remember all those who have died through cancer. Kenya is also struggling with the ever increasing cases of cancer victims. It is hoped that this day will help bring into light some of their suffering and hasten research in this area.

Compiled by Grace C. Sitienei, University of Nairobi Library

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