Categories
Cancers

PANCREATIC CANCER; THE SILENT, THE AGGRESSIVE, THE FATAL


If you use an iPhone, iPod or iPad, then you must know Steve Jobs the former chief executive officer (CEO), and co-founder of Apple Inc. who died on October 5, 2011 aged 56 years.

Steve Jobs

He was quite wealthy and, no one would expect him to die at such a young age. This confirms the saying that “money can not buy life”.

Nevertheless, his death can not be entirely attributable to the disease, but he displayed a level of ignorance for one of his calibre. He was diagnosed with Cancer and refused treatment for 9 whole months and, rather sourced for alternative healthcare. That was tantamount to Suicide(wikipedia).

Today, I want to create awareness of this dangerous disease. One of the most aggressive cancers. In fact, like one of my teachers would say, it is one of the fastest ways to die. Gives no prior notice, it just hits and death is in weeks.

Overview of the Pancreas

The pancreas is one of the organs in the body responsible for the secretion of some enzymes, hormones like Insulin which helps in carbohydrate metabolism and utilization. It is located in the abdomen.

Cancer of the pancreas

Cancer of the pancreas is on the rise. It’s a very aggressive tumour and it occurs quite frequently in West Africa. Most patients present with advanced disease.

The peak age of occurrence is 65-75 years. However it has been found in much younger age (Steve was 45 years when he was diagnosed in 2003)

Risk factors

It has a familial background in 10% of patients. With those with at least first two relatives with ca Pancreas, the risk increases by 18-57 fold!

Chronic pancreatitis: This is the inflammation of organ. And the principal cause is Chronic alcohol abuse

Cigarette smoking

Diets rich in fat and protein

Diabetes Mellitus (it occurs twice as frequently in diabetics as in the general population)

Presentation

  • Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss of about 11kg over a few weeks are usually the first and most constant symptoms of this cancer.
  • Pain is prominent in 80% of cases. It is characteristically a dull ache,  located in the centre of the upper part of the abdomen (epigastrium) which is felt more severely while lying flat with head up (supine). Ache is also aggravated by food intake, or the pain may just be a persistent back pain.
Persistent back pain
  • Jaundice (Yellowish discoloration of the eyes) is the 3rd most encountered symptom occurring in over 75% of cases.

These are the 3 main symptoms. Others may include

  • Diarrhoea, retching and vomiting
  • Liver enlargement which may be as a result of spread to the liver
  • Though rare, but there could be psychiatric manifestations like depression and paranoid psychosis.
  • Passage of blood in stool or dark coloured stool.

Once any of these are noticed, please see a physician fast.
The prognosis of this cancer is poor and there are some available screening tools (tumour markers).

Diagnosis

A high-resolution abdominal ultrasound scan or CT abdomen (with contrast) are readily available for picking out this cancer.

Treatment

Surgery and chemotherapy. Patients with jaundice need operative treatment without delay (Steve refused this for complete 9months. Who knows maybe he would have survived because he had a milder variant of this cancer, not the most aggressive types). Jobs was first diagnosed in 2003, he chose to pursue alternative therapies, including acupuncture, herbal, diet and fruit juice therapy and spiritual consultations. Many of these therapies he found on the internet. An act he regretted till death(wikipedia). Please don’t be like Steve.

The prognosis is poor. But with early intervention after surgery, median survival is about 11-20months and without surgery 6months. Contrary to what some believe, pancreatic cancers can be treatable. Early detection of the disease greatly contributes to the likelihood of successful treatment. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer can be difficult to detect in its early stages when treatment has been known to be most successful. In addition to pancreatic cancer treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy, new clinical trials are being conducted every day to help combat advanced-stage disease.

Prevention

1. Adequate medical check up: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died on September 18, 2020 at age 87 due to complications related to pancreatic cancer. She was first diagnosed with early stage pancreatic cancer in 2009. She had no symptoms of the disease at the time – it was discovered during a regular checkup. She was an inspiration to cancer fighters.

Justice Ruth Ginsburg

This shows that the importance of regular medical check up can never be over-emphasised

2. Avoidance of alcohol and cigarette smoking

3. Health diet: A healthful diet can contribute to maintaining a healthy pancreas

Disclaimer: This isn’t for diagnostic purposes.

Categories
Cancers General

Tobacco evil, multiple effects


I met Jack a few years ago. He was practically everything I wanted. We got talking and I couldn’t help but admire him. He was an awesome fellow. But I always noticed he had a whiff of nicotine breath each time we met.
By the 3rd week, he confessed to me he was addicted to smoking cigarettes following a request from him to smoke in my presence.

He smoked at least 2 packs of cigarettes each day, he admitted.
Seriously, I tried to talk him out of it. But when it was clear to me he wasn’t ever going to change, I walked out of his life without looking back.


You can call me selfish, yes, but I don’t want to spend my life taking care of a partner who failed to take care of himself while he could, or battling with a disease acquired through passive smoking.

Tobacco kills up to half of its users.

Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Cigarette smoking, according to the CDC, causes more preventable deaths each year than the combination of HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use and motor vehicle injuries.
Smoking is addictive and sometimes difficult for those who smoke to easily walk away from this habit. This addiction also drives up the profit of Tobacco companies. They ain’t gonna stop producing cigarettes anyway.

You can have some of these effects of cigarette smoking even without being an active smoker. Passive smoking is as dangerous as active smoking. Passive smoking is the inhalation of smoke (secondhand smoke) by persons other than the active smoker.


We probably all know at least one person who smokes cigarettes. The effects on the body are varied and widespread, however, no one has told you these things I’m about to share with you today…

  1. Smokers are at an increased risk of CANCERS:
    Smoking can cause cancers almost anywhere in the body.
    Lung cancers, in more than 90% of cases are caused by smoking. Lung cancers are also seen among passive smokers and rarely among non-smokers. The link between smoking and lung cancer is very strong and almost always diagnosed very late.
    Mouth, tongue, laryngeal, esophageal, liver and stomach cancers are also strongly linked to smoking.
    Pancreatic and skin cancers have also been linked to cigarette smoking.
    Many who smoke also ingest alcohol. This combination exponentially increases the risk of all cancers.
  2. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a medical condition that affects the respiratory system. In this case, the chemicals from smoking cigarette destroys the lung tissues, making them less efficient in their function. Individuals tend to cough a lot with copious sputum production and poor body oxygenation. It is progressive and irreversible, usually leading to respiratory failure and even heart failure. It commonly reduces the life span of affected individuals.
    Tobacco smoke is capable of triggering an asthmatic attack even in previously undiagnosed individuals.
  3. Atherosclerosis which is the thickening of blood vessels can lead to stroke, heart failure and other diseases. Smoking leads to premature or a rapid ageing of the blood vessels, making them stiffer, clogged and narrower.
    This limits blood flow to vital organs of the body including the brain (causing a STROKE), heart (causing HEART ATTACK or myocardial infarction), kidneys (causing KIDNEY FAILURE), eyes (causing DETERIORATION IN EYESIGHT), leg vessels (causing pain on walking or CLAUDICATION) and the penis (causing ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION).
    Male smokers produce less viable sperms and are more likely to be infertile compared to their non-smoking peers.
  4. Cigarette smoking in pregnancy causes low birth weight, premature labour and an increased risk of sudden death of the baby (within the womb) before it is delivered.
    Smoking also makes it more difficult for a woman to get pregnant.
  5. For those who are so concerned about their skin, smoking damages the skin. Making it rougher, wrinkled with an increased risk of developing skin cancers.
    If you want a smooth and shiny skin, then smoking cigarettes actively or passively must be avoided at all cost.
  6. Maintaining a beautiful set of teeth is out of the question with cigarette smoking. Tobacco blackens the teeth and causes gum disease with early enamel erosion. Regular toothaches and dental visits is their lot. I am yet to see a smoker with an inviting healthy smile.
  7. A bad breath is the norm with smokers too. Long after smoking, it stays with them. A bad breath among smokers can not be eliminated simply by brushing the teeth or licking tom-tom, as the breath comprises exhaled air from the lungs. It can be irritating, a regular source of a bad impression from strangers.
  8. Exposure to cigarette smoking at an early age causes delay in lung maturation.
Exposure to cigarette smoking at an early age causes delay in lung maturation.

These effects, which by no means is exhaustive as smoking affects every organ in the body, can similarly be caused by either smoking cigars or pipes. So one does not go on playing the ostrich.
You mustn’t be an active smoker to have any of these, passive smoking can also result in these.
Do you see why I said what I said? I can not suffer for another man’s foolishness.

Bringing an end to the habit of smoking is, admittedly, not an easy endeavour. It requires a strong personal desire to quit and stay smoke-free.
One will need:


*Family and friends support…Encouragement from supporting family members can be motivating.


*Behavioral changes (like avoiding joints/clubs or places where others smoke and seeking a diversion for when the cravings arise).


*Nicotine replacement therapy (nicotine patches) help when those who were avidly addicted develop withdrawal symptoms like headaches and the shakes.


*Prescription drugs to discourage smoking are also available.


*Join a support group. These groups comprising anonymous repentant addicts who chose to support each other may be uncommon in Nigeria for now. But some organizations can be reached by phone or online for psychological and material support.

Support group

Taking the first step by making a firm resolution is key as the necessary help can easily be assessed wherever one is in this country.
Say no to cigarette smoking, and say NO today.
Do not wait until the claws of a debilitating disease bring you down to a level of helplessness, forced to give up this habit when it is too late.

The clock is ticking

Disclaimer: The character depicted is fictitious. Any similarity to actual person living or dead is purely coincidental

Categories
Cancers General

COLORECTAL CANCER: THE CHADWICK CANCER


COLORECTAL CANCER : THE CHADWICK CANCER

Some weeks ago, the internet was set ablaze following the death of the legendary actor, Chadwick Bozeman who died on August 28, 2020 at the age of 43 years. He died from Stage 3 COLORECTAL CANCER.

Chadwick Boseman

His death obviously, has created more awareness on this cancer. However, besides just knowing the cause of his death, I deemed it necessary, additionally, to let us know the peculiar characteristics about this common cancer.

Colon simply means ‘Large intestine’. The rectum begins after the large intestine and ends at the anus.

Colorectal cancer is cancer occurring within this two segments, colon and or rectum.

It is the third commonest cancer worldwide in both sexes.

Cancer of the colon is more common in women, while rectal cancer is commoner among men.

It occurs at any age but especially between 40 – 79 years. The highest occurrence is seen in those between 60 – 79 years. Chadwick was 43 years when he died.
Chadwick was diagnosed four years ago and he had quietly lived through a series of surgeries and chemotherapy without announcing it, while at the same time embarking on his daily activities. Early this year, he was noted to have lost weight making friends express some concern about his health.

Associated Risks for developing colorectal cancer

*Diet:

  • Red meat- beef, pork and their processed varieties like bacon and ham increase the risk of this cancer. Those who eat two portions a day are at increased risk over those who eating one portion a week.

  • High intake of fat, especially saturated fat.
  • Low intake of fruits and vegetables in diet.

*First degree relative having the cancer increases the risk of having it.

*Pre-existing conditions like adenoma, ulcerative colitis

Hereditary : about 10-15% are hereditary which also predisposes to breast, uterus and gastric (stomach) cancers.

*Obesity

*Exposure to radiations

HOW DOES IT PRESENT (SYMPTOMS)

👉 The most important and common symptoms of colorectal cancer are CHANGE IN BOWEL HABITS AND ABDOMINAL PAIN. It may be diarrhea, constipation or both.

👉 Passage of blood or mucus in stool
👉 Unintentional weight loss
👉 Lump in the abdomen
👉 Persistent abdominal discomfort – feeling bloated, cramps.
👉 Weakness and fatigue
👉 Bleeding from the anus

The symptoms are usually ignored especially by younger people. I hope Chadwick’s painful demise will awaken the desire to take our health more seriously and never take any body changes for granted.

What you must do

  • Healthy diet :

  1. consume more of fruits and vegetables, while grain cereals, and eating fish every other day is protective. Reduce the consumption of processed meat and fatty meals.

  • Once you notice any of the above symptoms please see a Doctor, a general surgeon preferably.Each one can easily tell when something is wrong with his/her body (bowel habits).I repeat once you notice any of the symptoms please see a doctor.
    He will most likely carry out a colonoscopy (visually examining inside the colon using a scope) and take a biopsy to make a diagnosis.
    This facility is increasingly available to us in Nigeria.
  • Know your family history of cancers. Once you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you must have a colonoscopy.
  • Avoid sedentary life. Exercise more often.

When detected on time, the outcome is a lot better and with a family history, early screenng is always beneficial and can be life saving.

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