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Cancer

Description

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth and spread of cells. It can affect almost any part of the body. The growths often invade surrounding tissue and can metastasize to distant sites.

​​Many cancers can be prevented by avoiding exposure to common risk factors. In addition, a significant proportion of cancers can be cured, by surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, especially if they are detected early.

What Causes Cancer?

​Cancer is caused by abnormal cells that grow in places that they are not meant to grow.  These cells can grow into other parts of the body and spread to other organs.

Signs and symptoms of Cancer include:

  • A change in bowel or bladder habits
  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • A thickening or lump in your breast or elsewhere
  • Difficulty swallowing or ongoing stomach ache (indigestion)
  • An obvious change in a wart or mole
  • A nagging cough or ongoing hoarseness (a croaky voice)
Cancer in children can be detected early by using the “SILUAN” signs.
These are:
  • S ​– Seek:  Medical help early for persistent symptoms
  • I  – Eye: White spots in the eye, new squint, blindness and bulging eyeball
  • L – Lump: Abdomen and pelvis, head and neck, limb, testes, glands
  • ​U – Unexplained: Fever, loss of weight and appetite, paleness, fatigue, easy bruising and bleeding
  • A – Aching: Bones, joints, back and easy fractures
  • N – Neurological: Change in behavior, balance, gait and developmental, milestones, headache, enlarged head.

How to manage cancer?

  • You may need treatment at a hospital.  Your doctor or Health Care Professional may try one or more treatment, such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy in efforts to try and remove as much of the cancer as possible.
  • ​If you have been diagnosed with cancer, make sure you get psychological support.  Your nearest healthcare facility will advise as to what support is accessible.
  • ​If you detect some cancers early and get early treatment, you may have a better chance of being cured from the disease.   These include early detection of some forms of Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer, Oral Cancer and Coro-rectal Cancer.
  • If you detect cancers early and get early treatment, some cancers (such as Leukaemia’s and Lymphomas and some Testicular Cancer in men) have high cure rates.

Types of Cancers:

Lung Cancer 

Lung cancer is cancer that comes from abnormal cells in the lungs.  The majority of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking or being around smokers. Ingredients in cigarette smoke cause damage to lung tissue. The damage can cause the cells in the lung to act abnormally, which can develop into cancer.

Signs & Symptoms

Different people have different symptoms for lung cancer. Some people do not have any symptoms at all. Lung cancer symptoms may include:

  • shortness of breath
  • coughing that does not go away
  • wheezing
  • coughing up blood
  • chest pain
Prevention
  • Do not smoke
  • Avoid second hand smoke
  • Remove radon from your home and workplace
Treatment

There are different ways of treating lung cancer. Treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. People with lung cancer often get more than one kind of treatment.

Colon cancer 

Colon or colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. Most colon cancers start as abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum. These become cancers over a long period of time. Colon cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups. It is most often found in people older than 50.

Causes
The exact cause of most colon cancers is not yet known.
Signs & Symptoms
Colon cancers do not always show symptoms, especially at first. You could have abnormal growths or cancer in your colon and not know it. That is why it is important to get screened regularly.
If there are symptoms they may include:

  • blood in or on your stool
  • stomach pains, aches or cramps that don’t go away
  • ​losing weight without a reason.

Prevention

There may be abnormal growths in your colon for years before it becomes cancer. Colorectal cancer screenings can find these abnormal growths so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening can find colon cancer early, when there is a better chance that treatment will be effective. Some studies show that you can reduce your risk of getting colon cancer by exercising, eating fruits and vegetables, drinking less alcohol and not smoking.

Treatment

The three standard colon cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you which one is best for you.

Gynaecological Cancer

Gynaecological cancer is the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells that starts in a woman’s reproductive organs. It can begin in different places within a women’s pelvis – the area below the stomach and in between the hip bones. There are different types of gynaecological cancers, namely cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar cancer. All women are at risk of gynaecologic cancer and the risk increases with age.

Causes

There are different things that cause gynaecologic cancer. Research has found that some genes promote the growth of cancer. The abnormal genes can be acquired (through smoking, aging and environmental factors) or inherited. Almost all cervical cancers and some cancers of the vagina and vulva are caused by a virus called HPV or Human Papilloma Virus.

Signs & Symptoms

It is important to pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you. This way you will recognise the warnings signs or symptoms of gynaecologic cancer. See a healthcare practitioner if you have vaginal bleeding that is abnormal for you or warning signs that lasts for longer than two weeks. These may include:

  • abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • pelvic pain or pressure
  • abdominal or back pain
  • bloating
  • changes in bathroom habits
  • itching or burning of the vulva
  • ​changes in vulva colour or skin such as a rash, sores or warts.

Risks Prevention

Some gynaecologic cancers are caused by HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection. The more sexual partners a woman have, the better her chances of contracting the infection. Abstain from sex, stay faithful to one partner or always use a condom. You can screen for cervical cancer by having a Pap smear. 

​The Pap smear can prevent cervical cancer by finding pre-cancers that can become cancer if it is not treated in time. Because there is no simple and reliable way to test for gynaecologic cancers (except cervical cancer) it is very important to listen to your body and find warning signs.


Treatment

There are different ways to treat gynaecologic cancer. The treatment depends on the type of cancer and how far it has spread. Treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. You may get more than one kind of treatment.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the top cancer in women both in the developed and the developing world. The incidence of breast cancer is increasing in the developing world due to increase life expectancy, increase urbanization and adoption of western lifestyles. 

Although some risk reduction might be achieved with prevention, these strategies cannot eliminate the majority of breast cancers that develop in low- and middle-income countries where breast cancer is diagnosed in very late stages. Therefore, early detection in order to improve breast cancer outcome and survival remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.

Prostate Cancer

Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells in the body grows out of control. Prostate cancers are cancer cells from the prostate. The prostate is part of the male reproductive system, which includes the penis, prostate and testicles. It is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum.


Causes

Scientists are still trying to determine the cause of prostate cancer.


Signs & Symptoms

Different people have different symptoms for prostate cancer. Some men do not have any symptoms at all. Some symptoms of prostate cancer are:

  • difficulty starting urination
  • weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • frequent urination, especially at night
  • ​difficulty in emptying the bladder completely
  • ​​pain or burning during urination
  • ​blood in the urine or semen
  • pain in the back, hips or pelvis
  • Painful ejaculation.

Prevention

There is no known way of preventing prostate cancer.

Treatment

Different types of treatment are available for prostate cancer. You and your healthcare practitioner will decide which treatment is right for you. Treatment may include active surveillance, surgery, radiation therapy and hormone therapy.

Colon or colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. Most colon cancers start as abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum. These become cancers over a long period of time. Colon cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups. It is most often found in people older than 50.​​

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