THE ‘SEXY VIRUS’ CAMPAIGN LAUNCH IN COMMEMORATION OF WORLD CANCER DAY





 
                  Credit: Google Images



   Sebeccly cancer care and support centre
 @sebeccly
By Dr Omolola Salako, Executive secretary (consultant radiation oncologist) 
  Dr Deola Tijani, Programme Coordinator  


World Cancer Day (WCD), commemorated on the 4th of February every year, is an initiative to unite the entire world in the fight against the global cancer epidemic. WCD aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness, educating the public about cancer and advocating for increased government and individual commitment.
Sebeccly Cancer Care is commemorating this year’s world cancer day by launching the sexy virus campaign. Over 30% of cancers can be prevented by healthy life style decisions (safe sexual practices, immunization against virus causing cancers etc), hence, we are using this campaign to emphasize the viruses that are transmitted through sex and cause cancers.


Cancer affects everyone – the young and old, the rich and poor, men, women and children –Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world(including Nigeria). Yet, many of these deaths can be prevented.

PREVENTION AND EARLY DETECTION ARE KEYS TO CANCER CONTROL
More than 30% of cancers could be prevented; by not using tobacco; having a healthy diet; being physically active and moderating the use of alcohol.
 In developing countries up to 20% of cancer deaths could be prevented by immunization against the infection of hepatitis B virus and human Papilloma virus.

Awareness is the first step to early detection and improving cancer outcomes. Whilst some of the cancers with the poorest survival rates, such as ovarian and pancreatic cancers, rarely show early warning signs, cancer researchers globally are seeking innovative ways to improve early detection and develop new tests for early diagnosis for these cancers. 
Some viruses cause cancer and they are called oncoviruses. Examples of  oncoviruses are: hepatitisB virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV), both associated with cancer of the liver, human Papilloma viruses (HPV), associated with cervical, oral and anal cancer.
HIV, HPV, HBV and HCV are cancer causing viruses (oncoviruses) that are frequent in Nigeria. Guess what? Yes! they can all be transmitted via contact with infected body fluids-during sexual activity (hence we tag them the ‘Sexy Viruses’), blood transfusion, sharing of syringes, needle stick injuries, dialysis, and from an infected mother to her baby (mother to child transmission). 
HBV and HCV cause majority of liver cancer worldwide. These viruses infect and damage the liver which over a prolonged period leads to liver cancer.
Doctors believe that HPV infection is a necessary cause of cervical cancer. it is transmitted through skin to skin contact and sexual intercourse (vagina, oral and anal routes).HPV infection is common, and most times, the immune system is able to eradicate it; however, if the infection persists it may lead to cancer.
The Good news is you can prevent or reduce your risk of developing cancers caused by some of these the sexy viruses(HBV,HIV and HPV) through:
Vaccination against HBV and HPV
Practicing safe sex (Abstain, Be faithful, use a Condom)
Avoid risky behaviors i.e. sharing needles, unprotected sexual intercourse
Ladies have a pap smear test done (or other routine cervical cancer screening)
Know your HIV and Hepatitis B status, If you are positive use your medications and see your doctor regularly.
Early detection
Awareness is the first step to early detection and improving cancer outcomes. Whilst some of the cancers with the poorest survival rates, such as kidney and pancreatic cancers, rarely show early warning signs, cancer researchers globally are seeking innovative ways to improve early detection of these cancers. Also, While early signs and symptoms are not known for all cancers, many cancers, including breast, cervical, skin, oral and colorectal cancers, and some childhood cancers, are detectable and the benefits of early detection are indisputable. 


CANCER SURVIVORSHIP
 Data from Nigerian cancer registries reveal:
An increasing incidence of cancers generally
Breast cancer is the commonest cancer followed by cervical cancer.
80-85% of patients present in advance stages, with attendant poor outcome and this accounts for the high mortality rate and low survivorship rates.

ADVOCACY

·        The provision of a skilled and supported cancer workforce is critical to the success of early detection programmes for cancer.
·        Prevention is the most cost-effective and sustainable way of reducing the global cancer burden in the long-term. Effective cancer prevention at the national level begins with a national cancer control plan (NCCP) that responds to a country’s cancer burden and cancer risk factor prevalence. NCCPs should include evidence-based, resource-appropriate policies and programmes that reduce the level of exposure to risk factors for cancer and strengthen the capacity of individuals to adopt lifestyle choices that promote good health for life.
·        An all inclusive approach that promotes multi-sectoral action and partnerships including with the private sector is essential to develop and implement effective evidence-based policies, legislation and programmes.
·        Establishment of support groups and counselling units in all cancer treatment centers would help cancer patients better cope with the burden and stress associated with diagnosis and treatment of cancers.