Posts made in February, 2014

World Cancer Day | 04 Feb 2014 – Myth 04

Posted by on Feb 8, 2014 in Health Topics | 0 comments

World Cancer Day  |  04 Feb 2014 – Myth 04

Myth 4: I don’t have the right to cancer care Truth: All people have the right to access proven and effective cancer treatments and services on equal terms, and without suffering hardship as a consequence.ACCESS TO CANCER CARE IS A MATTER OF SOCIAL JUSTICE Disparities in cancer outcomes exist between the developed and developing world for most cancers. Patients in low resource settings whose cancer may be curable in the developed world, often suffer and die unnecessarily due to a lack of awareness, resources and access to affordable and quality cancer services. Gender inequities in power, resources, culture and inadequate investment at a primary healthcare level restrict women in low resource settings from accessing essential cancer services, e.g. cancer prevention and early detection programmes. Over 85% of the 275,000 women who die every year from cervical cancer are from developing countries. More than 70% of the 160,000 newly diagnosed cases of childhood cancer worldwide each year lack access to effective treatment. The result is an unacceptably low survival rate of ~10% in some low- and middle-income countries compared to ~90% in some high-income countries. Poor and vulnerable populations are unable to afford expensive cancer medicines and treatments, which must often be paid by patients out-of-pocket, pushing families further into poverty. GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGECancer is not just a health matter. It has wide-reaching social, economic and human rights implications, and is a significant barrier to achieving inclusive and equitable development. Inequality is deepening – social and environmental factors and the double disease burden of exposures in many low- and middle-income countries are keeping the ‘bottom billion’ locked in chronic poverty and threatening national economies. Source:...

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World Cancer Day | 04 Feb 2014 – Myth 3

Posted by on Feb 7, 2014 in Health Topics | 0 comments

World Cancer Day | 04 Feb 2014 – Myth 3

Myth 3: There is nothing I can do about cancer Truth: There is a lot that can be done at an individual, community and policy level, and with the right strategies, a third of the most common cancers can be prevented. PROMOTING HEALTHY LIFESTYLES The conditions in which people live and work, and their lifestyles, influence their health and quality of life. Global, regional and national policies and programmes that promote healthy lifestyles are essential to reducing cancers that are caused by factors such as harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity. Tobacco use, the most common risk factor, is linked to 71% of lung cancer deaths and accounts for at least 22% of all cancer deaths. Based on current trends, tobacco use is estimated to kill one billion people in the 21st century. Alcohol is a known risk factor for cancer. It is strongly linked with an increased risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, bowel and breast, and may also increase the risk of liver cancer and bowel cancer in women. Overweight and obesity is increasing globally at an alarming rate, including among children and adolescents. Also of concern is the high proportion of overweight people living in low resource settings (two-thirds of the global total). Overweight and obesity is also strongly linked to increased risks of bowel, breast, uterine, pancreatic, oesophagus, kidney and gallbladder cancers. Rising rates of obesity will lead to increased cancer rates unless policies and actions are taken to improve people’s diets and levels of physical activity. GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE:  The implementation of policies and programmes that support a life-course approach to prevention, and strengthen the capacity of individuals to adopt healthy lifestyles choices can bring about behavioural change, which can help prevent cancer. Healthy Workplaces Organisations of all sizes can create environments that protect and promote the health of their employees, by providing: 100% tobacco and smoke-free environments Provision of and access to healthy food options Workplace health education programmes and policies that create awareness of cancer risk factors and the importance of early detection. Specific efforts are also needed to reduce the global burden of occupational cancer risks. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 177,000 cancer deaths each year are related to occupational exposure to selected carcinogens, with one in every three deaths estimated to be caused by asbestos. Another known recreational and workplace exposure is ultraviolet (UV) light, usually from the sun.  Exposure to UV light is the main cause of skin cancer. Source:...

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World Cancer Day | 04 Feb 2014 – Myth 2

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Health Topics | 0 comments

World Cancer Day  |  04 Feb 2014 – Myth 2

Myth 2: There are no signs or symptoms of cancer Truth: For many cancers, there are warning signs and symptoms and the benefits of early detection are indisputable RECOGNISE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS It is important for individuals, communities, health professionals and policy makers to be aware of, and educated in recognising the signs and symptoms for cancer (where possible). It is true that early signs and symptoms are not known for all cancers, but for many cancers, including breast, cervical, skin, oral and colorectal cancers, and some childhood cancers, the benefits of early detection are indisputable. Awareness is the first step to early detection and improving cancer outcomes. Whilst some of the cancers with the poorest survival rates, such as ovarian and pancreatic cancers, rarely show early warning signs, cancer researchers globally are seeking innovative ways to improve early detection and develop new tests for early diagnosis for these cancers. With few exceptions, early stage cancers are more treatable than late stage cancers. Equipping primary healthcare workers with the appropriate knowledge and tools to recognise the warning signs and symptoms of cancer is essential to reduce the likelihood of misdiagnosis and ensure prompt referral to specialist medical care at an early stage of the disease. Strategies for help-seeking behaviour should be encouraged. Recognition of early warning signs of some cancers is particularly relevant in low resource settings – it is cost-effective and in some cases does not require any specialist diagnostic technologies. E.g. clinical breast examination (CBE) performed by primary healthcare workers has the potential to detect cancers earlier, particularly in areas where the majority of breast cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage. EARLY DETECTION Early detection is multifaceted. Strategies that raise awareness about cancer and the importance of seeking care when symptoms are present, along with interventions for early diagnosis have the greatest chance of improving cancer outcomes.  ACHIEVING EQUITY IN EARLY DETECTION Achieving equity in cancer early detection and care should be a priority. In low resource settings, many cancers are being diagnosed at a late stage due to: A lack of investment in cancer services, particularly at the primary healthcare level. Limited awareness about the value of early diagnosis and the importance of seeking care when signs and symptoms are present, even among health professionals. Proliferation of myths and misconceptions about cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as stigma, gender and social inequities, can lead individuals to seek alternative care in place of standard treatment or to avoid care altogether. For cervical cancer, studies have shown that even a single screening between the ages of 30 and 40 can reduce a woman’s lifetime risk of cervical cancer by one third. For colorectal cancer, there is a wide and growing range of testing options that can be tailored to a country’s resources and burden of disease. The critical issues for all screening programmes are to select the test that is most appropriate for the context in order to achieve high screening coverage, high quality testing and reliable follow up. GLOBAL ADVOCACY MESSAGE The success of early detection programmes can be measured by a reduction in the stage of the cancer at diagnosis with earlier diagnosis associated with a reduction in the risk of dying from cancer. Source:...

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World Cancer Day | 4 Feb 2014 – Myth 01

Posted by on Feb 5, 2014 in Health Topics | 0 comments

World Cancer Day  |  4 Feb 2014 – Myth 01

World Cancer Day is a chance to raise our collective voices in the name of improving general knowledge around cancer and dismissing misconceptions about the disease. From a global level, we focused our messaging on four myths. Learn the truth and supporting evidence below:   Myth 1: We don’t need to talk about cancer Truth: Whilst cancer can be a difficult topic to address, particularly in some cultures and settings, dealing with the disease openly can improve outcomes at an individual, community and policy level.WHEN YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS CANCER Talking about Cancer For most people, a diagnosis of cancer is a life-changing event commonly evoking feelings of shock, fear, anger, sadness, loneliness and anxiety. Talking about cancer to partners, family members, friends and colleagues can help to alleviate these feelings, and yet many people find it difficult. In most settings, cancer remains taboo and people with cancer are even subject to stigma and discrimination that may stop them from admitting they have cancer. Negative public perception of cancer can stifle informed public discussion and perpetuate a cycle of fear and misinformation that hinders raising awareness about cancer prevention and the importance of early detection. Countering cultural barriers against speaking about cancer and contesting misinformation is therefore essential. Even within highly engaged communities, the level of knowledge of cancer and the willingness to talk about it with friends and family can be low. There are campaigns that specifically challenge the taboos and embarrassment surrounding some male cancers (prostate, testicular and colorectal cancers) and create awareness of early signs and symptoms. Cancer Caregiving and Support Cancer caregiving can also have an enormous influence on both physical and mental health. Cancer carers – most commonly partners, family members or friends – often receive little information or support, and as a consequence many of them experience emotional distress leading in some cases to depression. Providing the right support for both the carer and the person living with cancer can help with coping and improve quality of life. Partners, friends, and family members can help in their own ways, for example, by choosing to join support groups. Support groups can provide a caring and supportive environment for people living with cancer to express their feelings and reduce anxiety and fear as well as a place to share information about cancer treatment options and their side effects. Cancer and the Workplace There is a substantial financial burden associated with cancer patients and their carers both in out-of-pocket expenses and in lost income and benefits. For both patients and their carers, receiving support in the workplace can be a significant factor. A supportive approach from employers can reduce anxiety and provide the skills and confidence to deal with cancer at work. Making adjustments such as supporting a phased-return to work can be an important factor in getting people back to work successfully. A job can restore normality, routine, stability, social contact and income. In low resource settings, the costs of cancer can be catastrophic for families, with the high costs of cancer treatment and absence from work, impoverishing families. Cancer, Body Image and Sexual Wellbeing The impact on sexual wellbeing is, for many, one of the most devastating consequences of a cancer diagnosis. Issues of body image and sexuality can have a significant impact on partner relationships and in some cases can be the cause of partner rejection. These issues are not restricted to women. Men facing cancer, particularly prostate and testicular cancer, face issues around self-esteem and sexual intimacy as well. The global health community must address the concerns and issues that impact...

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