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Jan 5, 2016, 10:53 AM
World Cancer Day is celebrated today the world over, and in The Gambia the day has been given more meaning by the leadership of the nation under the aegis of the First Lady, who is spearheading the campaign to create more cancer awareness in the country.
Cancer is said to be caused by damage to our DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) - the chemical at the centre of the cells of living things, which control the structure and purpose of each cell and carries the genetic information during reproduction; in other words, the chemical instructions that tell our cells what to do.
According to scientific research, developing or attracting cancer is caused by a combination of factors. These include things or substance in our environment, such as UV rays, or our lifestyle, such as alcohol and the cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco.
Although it could be transmitted through genes, cancer can also be caused to a large extent by our environment and aspects of our lives.
Every year, millions of people are diagnosed with the disease and a 2008 research in the UK revealed that more than 331,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year.
But experts estimate that more than 4 in 10 cancer cases could be prevented by lifestyle changes. such as: cutting back on alcohol, keeping a healthy bodyweight, eating a healthy and balanced diet, not smoking, keeping active, avoiding certain infections (such as HPV), enjoying the sun safely, and avoiding cancer risks in the workplace.
It is believed that if these precautions and lifestyle are adopted and practised by people, the risk of developing cancer will be drastically minimized.
As we approach World Cancer Day, which will be spearheaded in The Gambia by our First Lady, under the theme: ‘We can. I can.’, it is essential to note that WCD is a chance to reflect on what we can do to make a difference to the fight against cancer.
Heather Bryant, VP of Cancer Control at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, said: “On World Cancer Day, we have an opportunity to collectively examine cancer control strategies to identify winning formulas that will accelerate progress.
“The goal for all of us is to ensure fewer people develop cancer, more people are successfully treated and that there is a better quality of life for people during treatment and beyond.”
So we in The Gambia need to intensify the campaign on cancer awareness and contribute in identifying winning formulas that accelerate the progress in curbing cancer cases in our society.
“Cancer affects all of us, whether you’re a daughter, mother, sister, friend, coworker, doctor, patient.”