Cancer in Kenya

What Is Cancer And Its Effects In Kenya

Cancer: Background and Development Process

For ages, Cancer has existed and has been a disease that survived through time. The first written documentary on Cancer was from circa 1600 BC in the Egyptian Edwin Smith Papyrus and describes breast cancer as well as several kinds of Cancer, referring to them with the Greek word καρκίνος karkinos (crab or crayfish). 

The name is driven from its appearance as the cut surface of a solid malignant tumor. With the veins stretched on all sides like the arthropod “the crab” has its feet.

In one of these records, Galen suggested that Cancer of the breast is so-called, because of its fancied resemblance to a crab given by the lateral prolongations of the tumor and the adjacent distended veins. 

Before it was translated karkinos into the Latin Cancer, also meaning crab and then proffered medical surgery as its cure. 

Galen did not agree with the use of surgery and thus suggested purgatives instead. These recommendations were taken for over 1000 years. 

Then in the15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, it became acceptable for doctors to dissect bodies to discover the cause of death. The German professor Wilhelm Fabry believed that a milk clot caused breast cancer in a mammary gland. 

According to Professor Francois de la Boe Sylvius, A Dutch professor and a follower of Descartes, he associated all cancer cases to some kind of chemical process. 

And thus believed the presence of acid in lymph fluid was the reason for cancerous cells. In the same vein, his collogue Nicolaes Tulp suggested that Cancer was a poison that slowly spread and thus postulated that Cancer was communicable. 

Later in 1761, a renowned Physician called John Hill described tobacco snuff as the cause of nose cancer.

However, the analysis was also associated with the research in 1775 by Percivall Pott, a known British surgeon that chimney sweeps’ carcinoma, a cancer of the scrotum, was associated with sweeps off chimneys. 

With the increase in the use of the microscope in the 18th century, the research found out that Cancer does not stay in a particular part of the body. But spread from the main position through lymph nodes to other parts of the body also known as metastasis. 

And this idea was first invented and organized by Campbell De Morgan an English surgeon between 1871 and 1874.

What is Cancer? 

Cancer is as a group of diseases that cause abnormalities in the growth of body cells with the capability to spread or invade other parts of the body. 

Most visible signs of Cancer could include the following: abnormal bleeding, lump, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss, and a change in bowel movements. 

Though these symptoms are apparent to indicate Cancer, they might as well represent the presence of other diseases. 

There are over 100 classes of Cancer in humans. Cancer though a new threat to African medical practice is a severe issue. 

In 2012, about 847,000 new cases were recorded and about 591,000 that same year, with almost half of cancer cases in the related to Sub-Saharan region. 

Nearly 31% of the total cancer cases recorded in sub-Saharan Africa is traceable to infectious agents. Away from Africa, the world recorded more severe, and death reports from this dreaded disease, ranking above Malaria, Tuberculosis, and HIV altogether. 

3rd world countries are the most focal stations for this disease, recorded about 70% of the new cases of Cancer. Most of the instances of Cancer are vectored by infectious agents, mostly in developing countries. 

In one of the researches held by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), it discovered that there are over 11 Infectious agents in humans that can cause Cancer of different degrees and classes:

Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), hepatitis C virus (HCV), human papillomavirus (HPV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), human herpesvirus type 8 (HHV-8; also known as Kaposi’s sarcoma herpes virus), Schistosoma haematobium, Helicobacter pyloriand Hepatitis B virus 

Presently, Cancer in Kenya is the 3rd leading cause of most deaths with a mortality rate of over 7% and the second most dreaded non-communicable disease. The harm cancer can cause to a human’s body cannot be underestimated. 

Annually in Kenya, Cancer has new case records of about 37,000 and about 28,000 mortality rate, just below some cardiovascular and infectious diseases.

Although information about the cancer cases in Kenya has just been scanty. With few care and treatment facilities available for patients, having the primary medical facility in Kenyatta National Hospital(KNH). 

The scarcity of these facilities makes it very hard for most cancer patients to access medical care as thousands of patients scamper to get treatment from three radiotherapy machines available at KNH. 

It is important to note that the havoc this disease can cause if allowed can be very severe in a deplorable state.  

Unfortunately, in some cases, patients even die before access medical care, as they have to wait in long queues until it gets to their turn for treatment. 

Some might not have the opportunity to see a medical doctor in weeks or even months, even though they might have traveled long distances from different parts of the country.

Furthermore, apart from patients traveling long distances to access medical treatment, cancer care in Kenya is expensive as patients have to would attend 25 to 30 sessions monthly and pay KSH 3,600 for each session. 

With this evaluation, you would have to understand what an average cancer patient goes through to get treatment.

These factors make cancer treatment very costly and imply that over 90% of Kenyans cannot afford cancer services, even in public hospitals. And can be attributed to the unacceptably high annual mortality rate of 28,000.

Early diagnostics of Cancer is curable, but entirely, unfortunately, up to 80% of cancer cases already diagnosed are at advanced stages. 

Some of the reasons bothering on lack of proper screening equipment or misdiagnosis and sometimes patients will have to pay dearly with their lives.

The Kenyan Cancer Prevention and Control Act 2012 and the National Cancer Control Strategy (NCCS) 2017-2022 highly advise prevention, screening, and early detection. 

The Efforts to promote the first presentation, and faster referrals, diagnosis, and treatment need urgent intervention at all levels.

Cancer affects 1 out of 1,000 pregnant women. The most common forms of cancers diagnosed during pregnancy are always similar to the other common classes of Cancer found in non-pregnant women during childbearing ages: leukemia, breast cancer, lymphoma, melanoma, cervical Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, and Colorectal Cancer. 

The high effect of cancers of the cervix, stomach, and liver are comparable with other population-based studies. 

That shows that among infection-related cancers, stomach, liver, and cervical Cancer, not only account for the vast majority of the total cancer cases associated with infections. But they have the highest incidences.

A research of the record of Cancer in Western Kenya, by use of data from the Eldoret cancer registry from 1999 to 2006 to identify the burden and pattern of this disease. Found out that at least 21% of the patients with Cancer had hematological malignancies where lymphomas were the most common (11.9%) followed by acute and chronic leukemia with 4.0% and 3.2% respectively. 

Esophageal (10.5%), breast (6.2%) and Kaposi’s sarcoma (5.9%) were the topmost non-hematological cancers. 

Chronic leukemia was specifically the 4th most common type of Cancer in KNH and 5th most common in MTRH while acute leukemia was also high and highest in the age-group of 24 years. 

It was suggestive that prostate cancer commonly affected males in the age group of 65 to 84 years and with notable higher occurrence also in the age-group of 45 to 64 years. 

These differences could be attributed to lifestyle choices and family history of the disease, which are among the risk factors associated elsewhere with Cancer.

Diagnosing early Cancer in a pregnant woman is almost impossible; this is because symptoms experiences could easily be associated with commonly normal discomfort that comes during pregnancy. 

So in that case, it is would only be possible to discover Cancer somehow in the later stage than the middle.

Some imaging procedures, such as Magnetic resonance imaging(MRI), ultrasounds, CT scans, and mammograms with fetal shielding are recommended for pregnant women for safety reasons; but other processes such as PET scans, are not safe.

Cancer treatment is generally taking the same processes for non-pregnant women. However, radiation and radioactive drugs are usually discouraged, pregnant women. Especially, if it exceeds a fatal dose of 100 cGy. 

In some cases, if the woman gets diagnosed at the maturing stage of the pregnancy. Treatment is shifted till the baby is delivered.

Basically, the reason for this is because pelvic surgeries during the first trimester might lead to miscarriage or possible death of the woman. 

Some medications, especially certain chemotherapy drugs given during the first trimester, increase the risk of congenital disabilities and pregnancy loss.

Elective abortions are not recommended and for the many common forms of Cancer that do not help the chance of the survival of the mother. 

In some advanced cases, such as those with uterine Cancer, it is better to terminate the pregnancy. And in some cases, the patient may be advised to end the pregnancy so that she can

begin severe and intense chemotherapy. 

Early use of Tobacco has been researched as one of the causes of about 22% of cancer deaths. And 10% of recorded cases also occur due to poor diet, obesity, absence of physical activeness, or excessive intake of alcoholic and toxic substances. 

Other factors may include certain infections, exposure to ionizing radiation, and environmental pollutants. A high number of liver cancer cases were observed in males rather than females. 

In developing countries, 15% of cancers are due to congenital infections. These factors act may somehow contribute to changing the genes of a cell. And typically, many genetic changes are required before Cancer develops. 

About 5–10% of cancers are attributed to inherited genetic defects from ones person’s parents. Cancer can be detected by sure signs and symptoms or undergoing some diagnostic tests. It is then important to still investigate further by medical imaging and checked by biopsy.

Processes of Cancer in Human

Naturally, the human body is made of cells. And so at some point, they grow and divide to make new cells as the body needs them. So as a cell grows weak or too old, it dies and forms new ones in its place.

So, when these cells grow uncontrollably and refuse to die to form new ones. It metamorphoses into what is called tumor (coagulation of somebody mass), and tumors may be benign or cancerous. This is when we say that someone has Cancer.

Cancer tumors can grow and spread to most other parts of the body if not diagnosed and treated early enough. 

But benign tumors only grow but cannot spread

to other parts of the body. Though most cancers form a tumor, some might not have serious body mass coagulation. These include myeloma, leukemia, and lymphoma.


How Cancer Spreads to other Part of the Body

Since Cancer occurs in cells, as these cell masses grow, cancerous cells can be transferred through the bloodstream to some other parts of the body. 

So with this process, the cells can then grow and develop to tumors in those new parts of the body it finds fit to produce. This process is known as metastasis.

Lymph nodes are the most places that Cancer spread to. These are very tiny, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection. Sometimes they occur in clusters at various parts of the body, ranging from the neck to the groin, and sometimes the armpit.

Internally, Cancer can also spread to other parts of the body. These parts may include the bones, liver, lungs, or brain. 

Even if Cancer spreads, it is still named for the area where it began. For example, if Cancer spreads from the breast to the lungs, it is still called metastatic breast cancer, not lung cancer.

Care for yourself as a Cancer Patient 

Once Diagnosed with Cancer, understand that it is not the end of the world. And that you can make it through with a positive mindset. 

Though your activities with your loved ones may change, taking good care of yourself, it the most crucial thing in this state of your life.

Still keep to your daily routines, reading, exercise, and most importantly, your medication; to keep your mind in one piece. Keep constant communication with your healthcare givers and ensure to keep your emotion in check regularly.