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20 Most Common Types Of Cancer in Kenya

Types of Cancer 

Since it is evident that cancer is a dangerous disease, it would be reasonable for anybody to be afraid or very apprehensive when diagnosed with this dreaded disease. 

But what should be the most important thing to do is collaborate with your Doctors in giving your life the best meaning. So it would be necessary to know how to go about your treatment, and what you must do afterwards if surgery is involved.

Signs and symptoms of this dreaded disease vary from person to person. So it is only you and your Doctor that can decide the best treatment option for you and at what stage. 

Though the only notable factor is that a few treatment plans work for many different types of disease. But it doesn’t change the fact that cancer is a very devastating disease, and it is also pandemic.

According to reports from Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya (KNH), the top highest types of cancers as at 2017 were: Cervical cancer 12.4%, Breast cancer 11.8%, colorectal 6.2%, Leukemia 5.4% and Stomach cancers with 5.2%.

In females, the following was observed as the most common: Cervical cancer 20.7%, Breast 19.7%, Ovarian 7.3%, Leukemia 5.3%, and Stomach and Endometrial cancers both 5%. 

Cancer cases were also recorded as follows in males, prostate 11.5%, laryngeal 9.5%, colorectal 8.5%, esophageal 7.0%, and nasopharyngeal cancers 6.0%. 

In some other hospitals like the Moi Teaching Referral Hospital, cases of rare cancer types like the Kaposi’s sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma were also recorded with 18% and 7.4% respectively.

However, the effect of cancer in a person’s life cannot be overemphasized. And this is why steady body checks are supposed to be observed when sure signs and symptoms are noticed. 

There are increasing numbers of cancer cases all over the world. And for this reason, one has to know the forms of this disease and possibly its signs and symptoms; So as to stay clear and as well maintain a healthy lifestyle.

According to medical specialists, early diagnosis of cancer can be essential is the curing process; if the right technology is applied. Cancer has an extensive range of present, but there are common types of this disease currently known.

Below is a list of most common types of cancer:  

· Breast cancer: This is an abnormal growth of cells in the breast. Breast cancer does not only occur in females, but it is attributed to women mostly being that they are the most prevalent and susceptible to this kind of disease. 

In Kenya, Breast cancer has the highest rate of reported cancer cases in the country. In 2002, according to data acquired from Nairobi Cancer Center, breast cancer had over 23% of all cancer registered instances.

· Thyroid cancer: This is a cancer of the thyroid gland. It’s often a tumour on the butterfly-shaped organ in the neck. Thyroid cancer is curable if treated appropriately. 

Research has it that patients below 50 years of age with cases of thyroid cancer have a curable rate of at least 97%. 

The common form of thyroid cancer is papillary cancer. Another type is Anaplastic cancer, though a rare type but can spread quickly to other parts of the neck and possibly the body.

 Ovarian cancer: This is the type of cancer that affects the ovary, the reproductive part of a female’s body that produces eggs. It is tough to detect until advanced stages when it has metamorphosed into pelvic or stomach cancer. 

Ovarian cancer if not checked, can spread to the liver, intestine, spinal cord or even the brain. There is a relative survival rate of five years for patients with this type of cancer at all stages. 

However, because this disease is not usually intense, it is often hard to detect it until it is advanced up to stage III or IV. It is one of the most frequent causes of gynaecologic death in Kenya. It has a survival rate of up to 2 years or less in some cases.

· Brain tumour: This is a tumour or abnormal cell growth in the brain. It often starts from other parts of the body to the brain. 

Sometimes it starts from the brain, though in rare cases. Patients diagnosed with brain cancer have very little time to live. Sometimes, they only live for five years or even less in some cases. 

Most ordinary forms of brain tumour are Gliomas and meningiomas tumours. According to records from Kenyatta National Hospital from 1983 to 1994, the most dominant type of brain tumour was Gliomas with a rate of 45.8%.

· Skin cancer: This type of cancer occurs when there is an abnormal development of skin cells. This type mostly occurs in areas of the body exposed to the sun, but in some instances, it can appear to unexposed regions of the body. 

The two types of skin cancers are determined by the cells involved include Keratinocyte carcinoma and Melanoma. There are also others not so common such as Basal cell carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, and actinic keratosis. 

· Throat/Esophageal cancer (Located in the larynx):  This refers to the form of cancer that occurs in the throat, tonsils or the voice box as the case may be. Kenya has the most number of throat cancer cases worldwide, both in males and females as backed by reports from Kenyatta National Hospital, University of Nairobi, Dalian University, and North Carolina Central University.

Countries like Uganda, China, South Africa, Tanzania, and Malawi also have high cases of throat cancer.

· Liver cancer: This is the presence of a cancer in the human liver. Liver cancers are tough to cure. This is because it is hard to diagnose this type of cancer at its early stage. So most liver cancer patients barely make it through life. 

The difficulty in treatment, might be because the liver is too infected to take a surgery on it or just too bad to treat, the most common kinds of liver cancer in Kenya are the hepatocellular and hepatoblastoma carcinoma.

· Oral cavity cancer:  The Oral cavity cancer is a type of cancer that develops in any part of the mouth. This might be due to excessive use of tobacco, abuse of alcohol or some bacterial infections. 

According to pathological records from Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi from 1978 up to 1997, at least 3.6% of reported cancer cases was oral cancer; with an annual frequency of 1.5% malignancy rate. 

· Lung cancer: As the name suggests, it is a form of cancer that occurs in the lungs. These organs in the human body are saddled with the responsibility of taking in oxygen during inhalation and expel carbon dioxide during respiration. 

In the world today, lung cancer has one of the highest mortality rates. It is because it occurs in both male and female, thereby killing more people of both genders than most other types of cancer. Smokers are at high risk of contracting lung cancer.

· Endometrial cancer (Located in the uterus): This type of cancer occurs in the womb linings, called the uterus. It is also known as uterine cancer; though they don’t mean the same thing. Patients diagnosed with endometrial cancers have survival of at least 95%. It is easy to detect this type of cancer at an early stage because it is followed by regular vaginal bleeding. 

· Uterine Sarcoma: It is almost the same as endometrial cancer because it occurs in the uterus as well. This form of uterus cancer occurs in the muscles of the uterus walls or other supporting tissues. Patients with a history of past pelvic treatments with radiation therapy are at high risk of this type of cancer.

· Bone tumours: This is the growth of abnormal cells in the bone, though most bone tumours are not cancerous. There can still spread to other parts of the body.

Lymphoma (also known as lymphatic cancer): The lymphatic system is the part of the body responsible for fighting germs and diseases in the body. So this type of cancer affects the lymphatic system. Annually half of the patients diagnosed with blood cancer have lymphoma.

Lymphoma is classified into Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Lymphoma is responsible for about 4% of cancerous cell growth in humans. 

Reports from Kenyatta National Hospital has it that three in every four men diagnosed with cancer has lymphoma. And 1 in every two women diagnosed with cancer has the same form of the disease.

· Colorectal cancer: This form of cancer, also known as colon cancer is a type that affects the rectum, which is situated at the tail end of the human digestive tract. It often has no symptoms and appears mostly as cancerous at the initial stage of its growth. 

It is the second most deadly type of cancer and also the most curable of its kind. Pathogenic data resolved from Globocan in 2018 states that over 937 deaths and 1,354 reported new cases on this type of cancer in Kenya.

· Stomach cancer: This type of cancer is found inside the stomach. Also known as Gastric cancer, it often occurs as a result of excessive tobacco use and most times, the excessive intake of food with so much salt concentration for a long time. 

At least, patients diagnosed with stage 1A of this type of cancer have a survival chance of about 71%. Gastric carcinoma is the most popular form of stomach cancer in Kenya. People with “A” blood group are reported with higher chances of ending with this type of cancer. 

· Cervical cancer: This is the second most occurring form of cancer after breast cancer in women with over 20% of the total cancer cases. 

It is seen to occur in the cervix, the part that joins the lower uterus to the vagina. Human Papilloma Virus is one of the infections known to cause most of this dreaded form of cancer. The chance of contracting cervical cancer is severely reduced by thorough and regular cancer screening tests, as well as receiving the vaccine that prevents HPV infections. 

· Blood cancer: Blood cancer also know as Leukaemia is a form of cancer that occurs in the lymphatic system and the bone marrow, the blood-forming tissues of the body. This process affects the standard functionality of the white blood cells; the type of blood cells that helps fights germ in the body. 

 Blood cancer affects the proper functioning of the white blood cells, which help fight diseases in the body. 

When one has Leukaemia, their bone marrow produces anomalous white blood cells that interfere with its normal functioning. 

The presence of leukaemia in the marrow will produce abnormal white blood cells; which would lead to severe cases if not treated in time. Leukaemia is often challenging to treat. The cost for leukaemia treatment in Kenya in 2005 was about Ksh 400,000. And the patient would have to be on these drugs throughout his/her lifetime.

· Pancreatic cancer: This is a type of cancer that occurs in the pancreas, the organ just behind the lower part of the human stomach. It functions to help regulate the metabolism of sugar in the body system and if not cured, can spread to other vital organs of the body like the liver and lungs. 

Pancreatic cancer is one of the fastest rising types of this dreaded disease. It killed over 667 patients in Kenya in 2017 alone and a total of 36,000 lives were lost to this disease in East Africa from 1990 to 2017. It is very insignificant at an early stage, so it is always hard to detect it.

· Prostate cancer: It is the type of cancer that affects the prostate gland, a gland responsible for the production of the semen that aids in the locomotion of sperms during reproduction. It is the most common type of cancer in Kenyan men. 

This type of cancer grows slowly and at the initial stage does not transfer to other parts of the body but the prostate gland. 

The best way to escape the severe stage is to start treatment at its early stage when it still only affects the prostate gland alone. 

Though not all type of prostate cancer grows slowly, some of them develop fast and must be attended to very urgently.  

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