Cancer detected early can be cured

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african american medical nurse handshaking with senior patient

AS they walked in single file to the assembly point, prominent among the Grade One pupils was the colour orange, the highlight of the day.
Children from Eaglesvale Primary School in Harare were excited with the day that resembled a civvies day, except everyone wore orange.
The school recently joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Cancer Day.
The belated celebrations were held in a bid to raise awareness among the young minds.
World Cancer Day is celebrated annually on February 4.
In an interview with The Patriot, Eaglesvale Primary School-Head, Michael Bvumbe said they have held awareness campaigns to commemorate World Cancer Day every year since 2012.
“Dubbed Orange Day, we normally find our own theme which complements the international theme and we line up various activities, inviting speakers from various organisations to come and talk to our children on cancer issues so that our children are well informed and on what they can do to help, especially fellow children with cancer,” said Bvumbe.
“As a prostate cancer survivor, I can testify that early detection and diagnosis goes a long way in the treatment (of cancer).
“I found out that I had cancer in 2012 and got treatment in South Africa in 2014 and I have fully recovered.”
Speaking at the same occasion, Kids Can Survive Cancer (KidzCan) advocacy officer Maureen Maradzika assured the children that early cancer detection and treatment resulted in high chances of survival.
“All we need to do as (young) children is support our friends who have been diagnosed with cancer and assure them that they will make it as long as they go through all the treatment processes, especially the importance of early detection,” she said.
As KidzCan, said Maradzika, they focused on improving the provision of effective treatment of cancer in children, as well as contributing to the well-being of children suffering from cancer and other related life-threatening blood disorders.
“We aim to ensure that affected children and families have access to a high standard of treatment and support, regardless of their place of residence or their socio-economic background,” she said.
Statistics show that although childhood cancers (0-14) are a rare condition, Zimbabwean statistics are very high with child cancers constituting three percent.
Experts contend early detection comprises both screening in asymptomatic, but at risk populations as well as early diagnosis in symptomatic populations.
However, in Zimbabwe the majority of patients, even with potentially curable cancers, present at an advanced stage.
Early clinical diagnosis can only be implemented through increased (public and health workers) awareness of cancer symptoms and signs.
The workforce needs to be adequate, empowered, well trained in primary care and able to promptly recognise and refer people with suspected signs and symptoms of cancer for early diagnosis and treatment.
Equally, health services need to be equipped with necessary infrastructure to support diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Priorities for cancer diagnosis and treatment in Zimbabwe should include the establishment of cancer multi-disciplinary teams, updating cancer treatment guidelines, the decentralisation of diagnostic and treatment services and making accommodation available for patients being treated
Services should focus on early detectable tumours.
Diagnosis is the first step in cancer management.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, staging to evaluate the extent of disease is essential.
Treatment will obviously depend on the type of cancer, the tissue of origin and stage of the disease.
The aims of treatment will also vary according to the circumstances, from cure, to prolonging useful life and improving the quality of life.
The diagnostic infrastructure in Zimbabwe is limited.
Early diagnostic facilities are available mainly in Harare and Bulawayo.
However, a critical shortage of diagnostic facilities in public institutions leads to diagnostic delays of up to three or more weeks.
The three major modalities of cancer treatment, surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are all costly and inadequate in the country, in terms of personnel, medicines and equipment.
Tumours which are detected early can be managed surgically, but shortage of oncology-trained surgeons compromises care.
Multi-disciplinary teams are essential, but currently a lack of trained specialists such as paediatric oncologists, haematologists and oncology nurses compromises treatment.
Priority should be given to co-ordinate the fragmentary existing paediatric surgical and oncology services to improve care given to children with cancer.
Facilities at the existing radiotherapy centres have recently been upgraded, but are still inadequate for the population.
Affordable and accessible chemotherapy and palliative care medicines should be available in public institutions.
Palliative care policy which seeks to address pain management, psycho-social and cultural needs of all people living with cancer also needs to be implemented.

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