By Chioma Umeha
There is hope for people with cancer as scientists have announced new advancement in its management using technology which can turn the often deadly disease into a chronic, but treatable condition.
The new scientific findings confirmed that cancer can be cured through the technology machines such as cyberknife, tomotherapy, truebeam and many others.
Commenting, Nagaraju Madhusudhan, a specialist in cancer treatment from HCG Cancer Hospital Bangalore, India, Cancer is not incurable condition; it is curable and controllable with the latest art of the technology machines such as cyberknife, tomotherapy, truebeam and many others.
“In worst cases, it is controllable like in the case of diabetes and hypertension. Now, people can live with cancer, we can control and make the people to live longer.
“So, it is not the end of life for anybody. We need to introduce the new type of equipments and drugs into Nigeria,” Dr. Madhusudhan said.
To demonstrate the use of new technology in tackling cancer, the experts weekend organised a special medical camp for persons in need of information and follow-up consultations on the disease.
The medical camp was organised by HCG, one of the global champions in cancer care to help Nigerians battling the disease and related conditions.
HCG with a network of over 500 oncologists led by Dr Madhusudhan, hosted the camp at the Optimal Cancer Care Foundation, Surulere, Lagos.
The oncologist said the goal of the camp is to reduce capital flight abroad for consultations in search of quality care.
Basically, cancer means an unregulated production of cells. What happens is normally, for any cells there will be a regulation, it will be controlled through the body. So without any control they will be multiplied and as they do that, they spread to other places like from one place to another, Dr. Madhusudhan said.
He however noted that there have been 14.1 million new cases in the world, according to 2012 statistics. He went further to reveal that Lung cancer is the one cancer in the world.
After the lung cancer then the breast cancer and then the colon/intestine cancer and we have other cancers. But when it comes to Nigeria, the most common cancer in women is breast followed by cervical cancer whereas in men it is prostate cancer and then the colon cancer, he added.
The renowned expert in 2D Treatment Planning, Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), CyberKnife, brachytherapy, chemotherapy and clinical oncology decried that Nigeria is still lagging behind in modern technologies to achieve a better result in cancer treatments unlike other parts of the world.
He said that with the latest CyberKnife which is the only robotic radiation delivery system for non-invasive, painless, treatment for cancerous and non-cancerous tumors and other conditions where radiation therapy is indicated people would not need to remove the entire breast when it comes to breast cancer or remove anus in the case of prostate cancer.
At the present, removal of the whole breast is not required except in very few instances where the whole breast is involved. The new chemotherapy can remove only the tumour, he said.
“Once we diagnose that a patient is having cancer, we do evaluate properly and thoroughly. For example in breast cancer it is not just to start the treatment for the patient, first thing is evaluate properly, what the disease is bothered on and do some molecular analysis.
“There are many factors we need to consider before we start chemotherapy or surgery. There is a molecular aspect. Another thing is what stage the patient belongs to; we have stage one, two, three and four. So truly speaking, we are to do a proper staging.”
He identified why cancer is the cause of high mortality in Nigeria saying that negligence and ignorance is the problem.
“People here live cancer cases to reach advance stage compare to other countries. People here are not educated on signs and symptoms of cancer. Even if they dictate some lumps, they will feel its normal lump, it may not be cancer and then they will go to the quacks or to herbal medicines.”
When it is finally at an advanced stage it will spread to different places then they are coming seeking for medical attention. So this is the cause of high mortality in Nigeria than other countries, this is the main reason, he said.
But he emphasised that families with the history of breast cancer should start the mammography at least at age 10 before others.
Dr Madhusudhan said that cancer is multi-factorial in origin and therefore very difficult to say that some agents can cause cancer.
He however, pointed the risk factors.
For example in breast cancer, those who did not breast feed, those who don’t have children and those with longest stay of monthly period and late menopause are at high risk of developing breast cancer because the patient will be exposed to more of estrogen progesterone. But it doesn’t mean that definitely, persons with all these things will always develop breast a cancer.
Even smoking, at times, increases the risk of developing a cancer, but all these things does not mean that if a person smokes that he is going to get cancer, it is not right. So there are multiple factors, he stressed.
Generally speaking, cancers don’t have their own specific symptoms. Take for example, breast cancer, a lump can be cancerous and non-cancerous, he said.
We are to consider many factors: age of the patients, previous family history, all these things are very important when deciding whether a lump is cancerous or not.
To lower the risk of developing cancer, he advised against sedentary habit, eating more of red meat and saturated foods, roasted/fried food, eating less of vegetables roughages is prone to colon, breast, stomach and other cancers are at the high risk of developing cancers.
But it doesn’t mean that those who eat all these kinds of food are always going to get cancer. Not all patients are at the high risk of developing cancers but patient with hepatices B, C are at the risk of developing liver cancers.
“Therefore, doctors in Nigeria need to be avail on the new facilities available in other parts of the world. They have to be educated what the standard is. Cancer is not like other diseases like typhoid or malaria where you can try one or two medicines because you can have a second or third chance. With cancer there is no second or third chance. You are to kill all the cancer cells first otherwise the patient’s life will be at danger,” Dr Madhusudhan said.