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Cancer On The Rise

It’s still not too late to end February with some love and awareness. As you know (maybe not), every year on February 4, World Cancer Day is held worldwide as an initiative by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). It is the largest and oldest international cancer organization dedicated to taking the lead in convening, capacity building and advocacy initiatives that unite the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, promote greater equity and integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda.

According to the health director-general, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, cancer is the second-highest cause of death in Malaysia and in the world. The Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report has stated that cancer cases in the country had increased to 115,238 from 2012 to 2016, compared to 103,507 from 2007 to 2011. The 10 most common cancers for the 2012-2016 report are breast, colorectal, lung, lymphoma, nasopharynx, leukaemia, prostate, liver, cervix and ovaries.

Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

With so many different types of cancers, the symptoms are varied and depend on where the disease is located. However, there are some key signs and symptoms to look out for, such as:

  • Unusual lumps or swelling – cancerous lumps are often painless and may increase in size as cancer progresses.
  • Changes in bowel habit – such as constipation and diarrhea or blood found in the stools
  • Unexpected bleeding – includes bleeding from the vagina, anal passage or blood found in stools, in urine or when coughing.
  • Unexplained weight loss – a large amount of unexplained and unintentional weight loss over a short period of time (a couple of months).
  • Fatigue – which shows itself as extreme tiredness and a severe lack of energy. If fatigue is due to cancer, individuals normally also have other symptoms.
  • Pain or ache – includes unexplained or ongoing pain or pain that comes and goes.
  • New mole or changes to a mole – look for changes in size, shape, or colour and if it becomes crusty or bleeds or oozes.
  • Complications with urinating – includes needing to urinate urgently, more frequently, or being unable to go when you need to or experiencing pain while urinating.
  • Unusual breast changes – look for changes in size, shape or feel, skin changes, and pain.
  • Appetite loss – feeling less hungry than usual for a prolonged period of time.
  • A sore or ulcer that won’t heal – including a spot, sore wound or mouth ulcer.
  • Heartburn or indigestion – persistent or painful heartburn or indigestion.
  • Heavy night sweats – be aware of very heavy, drenching night sweats.

Source: https://www.worldcancerday.org/

Future of cancer health

Here are some of the steps that you need to take:

  • Go for a regular medical check-up

Regular health screening is the first step to safeguarding your health because early detection and timely intervention can reduce future complications and treatment cost. It is recommended for women age 40 and above to go for yearly mammograms, while women between 21 and 65 years old should schedule a Pap smear every three years to screen for cervical cancer. Men, on the other hand, should test for colon and prostate cancer starting from age 45.

  • Find out if you are at high risk

If cancer runs in your family, genetic counseling and, often, earlier screening can make a major difference in detection and prevention.

  • Live a healthy lifestyle

We can’t control our genetics, but we can mitigate the risks of cancer by not smoking or reduce exposure to second-hand smoke, and drinking in moderation. A healthy diet and an active lifestyle are all no-brainers in maintaining general health.

Early detection is a very important factor. The earlier you catch it, the better the outcome, not just in the number of years you will live but the quality of life you will enjoy.

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