New Era (Windhoek)

5 February 2013

Namibia: Skin Cancer Rife in Namibia

Windhoek — Skin cancer remains the leading type of cancer in Namibia with 417 cases noted in 2011 alone. However, more recent statistics are yet not available.

In 2010, 581 cases of skin cancer were noted in the country. In an interview with New Era, Dr Laurica Fleermuys of the Dr AB May

Cancer Centre confirmed that skin cancer is common in Namibia where many people are blissfully unaware that extended exposure to the sun could cause skin cancer.

Exposure to the sun is a major contributing factor, confirmed Dr Fleermuys. "People should take responsibility to protect themselves against the UV (ultraviolet radiation) rays of the sun," she said.

Kaposi's sarcoma, which is more common in AIDS-suffering patients, is also common in Namibia, Fleermuys said. According to data from the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN), 251 cases of Kaposi's sarcoma were reported in 2011.

Kaposi's sarcoma is a type of cancer that develops from the cells that line lymph or blood vessels and forms purple, red or brown blotches or tumours on the skin.

Fleermuys said different types of cancers have different causes, however, lifestyles such as excessive drinking of alcohol and smoking nicotine-enriched cigarettes plays a major role in developing cancer.

People who smoke or consume alcohol in large quantities are most likely to develop breast, prostate and cervical cancer, said Fleermuys. Other contributing factors to cervical cancer include early exposure to sexual intercourse and having unprotected sex, she said.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) last year labelled the electromagnetic radiation from cellphones as 'possibly carcinogenic'. This means that the invisible waves emitted by cellphones can cause cancer. In the January 2013 edition of Cosmopolitan, an article quotes a study in which people used a cellphone for 50 minutes.

"It was discovered that brain tissue on the side of the brain where the phone was held metabolised more glucose than the tissues on the opposite side of the brain. Although results are preliminary and possible health outcomes from this increase in glucose metabolism are unknown, the fact remains that changes do occur," part of the article reads.

Furthermore, Fleermuys said more people are aware of cancer now compared to ten years ago. "People are openly talking about cancer. Previously, it was a shame to have cancer. People have become more aware of cancer and that's why it's not a death sentence anymore," Fleermuys said.

"One third of cancer cases can be prevented. Greater awareness and education about cancer can lead to positive change at an individual, community and policy level," reads a statement from CAN.

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