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EDITORIAL: Tests key in cancer fight

by kenya-tribune

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The growing incidence of cancers is piling additional pressure on an already ailing public healthcare system. More resources are thus going into managing a health threat that not so many years ago was seen as afflicting the elderly and even then, there were just two main types, lung and breast cancer, that demanded the attention of health workers.

However, there is heightening concern as experts warn that more and more young people are now afflicted by cancers, placing a huge financial burden on them and their families. Experts are predicting an increase in cancers targeting other parts of the body, including the food pipe and the stomach.

But nothing dramatises such a problem as much as when it presents itself in a form that a great number of people can readily identify with. The most glaring personification of the new cancer threat is the disclosure by 41-year-old Kibra MP Ken Okoth that his has reached an incurable stage. The MP’s predicament is a rather gloomy reminder that his situation could have been arrested had it been detected earlier.

There is enough information that can help keep cancers at bay, but, unfortunately, the realisation dawns on many after the worst has happened and there is not much that can be done. Early tests are critical in the detection and prevention of the diseases. There is also the common danger of misdiagnosis that sets victims on the path to costly and irrelevant treatment.

To keep cancer at bay, there is a need to flag the major causes and sensitise the public to be on the lookout and avoid the temptations that could land them in grave danger. These cancers are largely driven by lifestyle choices, including smoking, environmental hazards such as pollution and high-fat diets prevalent in processed food, and alcohol. Experts are concerned about a trend in which more young people are being diagnosed with throat and stomach cancers. Part of the solution is to step up sensitisation so many patients are diagnosed early before the cancers reach an advanced stage.

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