MASAKA. Cancer is a real silent killer . However, many Ugandans are still ignorant about this disease .
They surround it with a lot of misconceptions and this is exacerbated by low early screening uptake hence high cancer mortality.
It is upon this background that Kitovu Mobile has buttressed cancer awareness and sensitisation programmes in Masaka Sub Region to have residents informed about cancer and eventually embrace early and regular cancer screening.
Ms Jackline Namulondo, a health worker at Kitovu Mobile Medical Centre , says they want to promote cancer awareness programs during community out reaches and have people screened for cancer as early as possible to increase on their healing chances.
Experts stress that when cancers are diagnosed in early stages; one and two, the victim stands high chances of surviving the ‘deadly’ ailment which is silently claiming Ugandans. Ms Namulondo says when they get cancer victims early enough, referrals can be made to either Kitovu Hospital or Uganda Cancer Institute at Mulago ,Kampala for tertiary treatment.
She,however, with regret notes that many of their clients present with advanced and terminal cancers, and all are diagnosed in late stages and just settle for hospice and palliative care to relieve them of severe pain as they wait to breath their last.
Currently, the venerable faith based HIV/AIDS Care Organisation in the sub region, has 521 of such cancer patients.
Responsible authorities welcome move
Mr Alfred Jatho, a health educator and public health specialist at Uganda Cancer Institute, under the Comprehensive Community Cancer Programme, which is charged with community cancer education, appreciates the move which he considers as timely .
“Having partners to support the government in increasing cancer awareness is great news to us and highly commendable. As Uganda Cancer Institute, we love to see all people sensitized about the disease” Mr Jatho happily notes
Mr Alfred Jatho lists some of the commonest myths and misconceptions about cancer.
-It cannot be cured. (Response) no, if detected early, cancer can be cured.
Antiperspirants or deodorants cause breast cancer.(Response) no,the best studies so far have found no evidence linking the chemicals typically found in antiperspirants and deodorants with changes in breast tissue.
-Family planning methods like implants cause breast cancer. (Response)no, there is no proof yet; Breast cancer is not caused by family planning methods like implants.
-Cervical Cancer is caused by poor female hygiene or by using sanitary pads more than once.(Response) no, cervical cancer is caused by infection with HPV. The cancer has nothing to do with vaginal hygiene or sanitary pads. Cancer screening tests are painful.
-Part of a woman’s cervix or womb removed during screening. (Response) no, Screening tests are painless, though you may feel a little uncomfortable during a pelvic examination.(Response)no, part of the cervix or womb is removed during screening.
-Are the HPV vaccines safe and effective? (Response)yes. Many studies conducted in developing and developed countries have found both vaccines to be very safe and effective. Both vaccines have been given to millions of girls and women around the world without serious effect.
-Will HPV vaccination affect my daughter’s fertility? Will it be more difficult for her to become pregnant? (Response) no, there is no evidence that HPV vaccination will affect a girl’s future fertility or cause any problems.
-High levels of sexual activity or frequent ejaculation cause prostate cancer.(Response) This is not true. In fact, some studies show that men who report more frequent ejaculations may have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
Prostate enlargement means prostate cancer. (Response) This is not true. Apart from prostate cancer, there are other conditions that present with symptoms similar to that of prostate cancer.
-A man will develop prostate cancer only if his father had prostate cancer. Not exactly, but if a man had a father or brother with prostate cancer, his possibility of developing prostate cancer is higher than someone who doesn’t have this history.
-Use of cell phones and putting cell phones in the pocket cause prostate cancer.(Response ) no, according to the current studies conducted so far cancer is caused by genetic mutations, and cell phones emit a type of low-frequency energy that does not damage genes.
-Herbal products can cure prostate cancer. (Response) no, although some studies indicated that some herbs may help patients cope with the side effects of cancer treatment, no herbal products have been shown to be effective for treating cancer. In fact, some herbal products may be harmful when taken during cancer treatment.
Annually, over 5,000 cancer cases are registered at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI). Although cancer is a serious health problem, it can be prevented and controlled if detected early, as expressed by Dr. Jackson Orem, the Executive Director of Uganda Cancer Institute in various media briefings.
According to Kampala Data Registry, the incidence of cancer for every 100,000 is 320 newly diagnosed cases. For every 100 new cases diagnosed, 80 of them die, which is 80 percent mortality rate and 20 percent survival rate.