23 February 2018

Cameroon: "Many Cancers Are Linked to What We Eat"


Professor Jean Marie Kasia, Director General of the Hospital Centre for Applied Research, Endoscopic Surgery and Human Reproduction (CHRACERH).

Why is there focus on cervical, endometrial and breast cancers?

Some gynaecologic cancers have been called "silent killers" because women are often unaware of the signs and symptoms associated with these cancers and do not catch them until it is too late. Cervical, endometrial and breast cancers are very frequent in the country. We have to constantly screen the female folks of these cancers in a bid to prevent them amongst our mothers, sisters and daughters. During the last decade, cervical cancer was more rampant than breast and endometrial cancers. But breast and endometrial cancers are becoming more and more common amongst women. This is because at the beginning, we focused more on cervical cancer. But statistics are indicating that the fight against breast and endometrial cancers need to be intensified. All these are dangerous cancers and we need to increase preventive measures such as screening.

How do these cancers manifest?

With cervical cancer, at the beginning, one will have no signs to make diagnosis. The only thing one can do is a screening (pap smell). Through the pap smell, one can see differences in the legion. But when cervical cancer has fully developed, the woman can have blood during sexual intercourse or spontaneous bleeding. In endometrial cancer, the woman can have odious liquid coming out of the woman's private part, as well as unexplained bleeding. At times for breast cancers, one can have a sign and at times no signs. But at times the breast can release milk or blood. The breast can also carry a small wound which might not be a boil but a sign of breast cancers. That is why women need to do auto-palpation of their breast during bathing.

What are the causes of these cancers?

There are many reasons. For example, the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is mostly the cause of cervical cancer most at times. But Sexually Transmissible Infections and the fact that one has many male sexual partners can expose women to cervical cancers. Endometrial cancer is mostly due to hormonal imbalance. If a woman is very fat, she is exposed to endometrial cancer because of excess estrogens in the body. Breast cancers at times can be a genetic disorder or due to certain things people eat. The environment is changing and many cancers programme are linked to what we eat.

After the screening exercise, what next?

After the campaign, if any person is infected, the hospital will handle the situation. It is quite cheaper to be treated of cancer at CHRACERH because it is a hospital created by the Head of State and his wife for all Cameroonians. Handling cancersrelated diseases is one of the preoccupations of the hospital. The hospital is meant for those who do not have money to handle major health problems. We need to organise such screenings as often as possible in a bid to prevent some of the cancers amongst which are generally deadly. Women need particular attention and it is but normal that on the occasion of the International Women's Day, we organise such a campaign just for them. Many women move around without knowing that they have gynaecologic cancers. That is why we need to organise such a screening exercise as often as possible. We will not only organise such campaigns at CHRACERH, we will also be moving into villages and other peripheral neighbourhood. Women need to carryout screening for cancers as often as possible.


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