National Cancer Consciousness Week is a week-long celebration held annually to increase public knowledge and understanding of cancer and to provide support to cancer patients and survivors. It is celebrated on the third week of January.
The first National Cancer Consciousness Week was held in ‘1975 by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1348. The first National Cancer Conference was also held during the same year.
A parade and a special program were held at the Philippine General Hospital’s quadrangle in celebration of National Cancer Consciousness Week. Activities held during the year were focused on highlighting the role of tobacco smoking in the development of lung cancer. Organizers have also made it a point to make the public aware of the effects of cigarette smoking to women and the youth.
The theme for the year was “Cancer Institute @ 70: Reinvigorating Its Role in Cancer Prevention and Treatment.” Bravehearts, the information drive arm of the Cervical Cancer Prevention Network joined the celebration to help spread information about cervical cancer in the Filipino community. The highlight of the 2008 celebration was the launching of three websites for cancer campaign awareness. Another initiative was the call for higher taxes on tobacco and cigarettes, stern implementation of proper cigarette labeling, and a ban on advertisements on tri-media.
The focus of the 2010 celebration was public awareness on cancer as a lifestyle-related illness. According to Department of Health, unhealthy diets and nutrition and lessened physical activity can lead to cancers. The Department encouraged everyone to put more concern with regard to their health and daily habits that affects their lifestyle.
Cancer in the Philippines
When one has cancer, abnormal cells grow out of control in the body and invade other body tissues. It eventually affects the health of the individual and may eventually lead to death. The behavior and growth of these abnormal cells differ among cancer types. The early detection of the cancer can help stop the spread of the disease to the entire body. It is thus important that people understand that cancer can be cured through treatment and choosing healthy options.
Cancer is largely considered a lifestyle-related disease. Many chemical, biological, radioactive, and other naturally occurring and synthetic substances, as well as predisposing factors and high-risk behaviors like smoking, diet, sexual activity, pollution and occupational exposure have been linked to cancer. Many different types of cancers have been identified. In the Philippines, the most common sites of reported deaths from cancer are the trachea, bronchus and lung (8.4 deaths per 100,000 population), breast (4.4 per 100,000) and leukemia (2.9 per 100,000). Among males, the leading sites are the lungs, prostate, colorectal area and liver.
Among females, the leading sites are the breast, uterus, cervix and lungs. Among children, the leading cancers are the leukemia and lymphomas. Every year, about 200,000 Filipinos suffer from cancer pain. Cancer ranks the third in the ten leading causes of mortality. It is common in all age groups and both sexes with the highest number of deaths among males. Lung cancer ranks the highest cancer site among males while breast cancer ranks the highest cancer site for females. Indeed, cancer is a major public health threat all over the world.
But cancer is a killer disease only when not detected early and poses a great burden not only to the patients, families, and communities, sectors of the society and the national development of the country. In order to sustain the health promotion aspect on the prevention and control of cancer, the Department of Health has scheduled a monthly calendar of events the following calendar of events is celebrated monthly.
Cancer cells are abnormal cells. Cancer cells grow and divide more quickly than healthy cells. Some cancer cells may form growths called tumors. All tumors increase in size, but some tumors grow quickly, others slowly. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. This is called metastasis.
What causes cancer?
Cancer is ultimately the result of cells that uncontrollably grow and do not die. Normal cells in the body follow an orderly path of growth, division, and death. Programmed cell death is called apoptosis, and when this process breaks down, cancer begins to form. Unlike regular cells, cancer cells do not experience programmatic death and instead continue to grow and divide. This leads to a mass of abnormal cells that grows out of control.
Diet and Lifestyle
Infect the cell, cause genetic damage to the cell’s DNA leading to the development of cancer.
Carcinogens are a class of substances that are directly responsible for damaging DNA, promoting or aiding cancer. Tobacco, asbestos and chemotherapeutic agents exposure (occupation) , arsenic, and compounds in car exhaust fumes are all examples of carcinogens. When our bodies are exposed to carcinogens, free radicals are formed that try to steal electrons from other molecules in the body. Theses free radicals damage cells and affect their ability to function normally.
Predisposing Factors: a. Age b. Sex c. Hormonal Status d. Genetic Differences e. Socioeconomic status
Cancer development begins at the molecular level and may begin with mutations or damages of one or more genes
Change from normal to neoplastic cells is a process, a series of events and not a single event
Clinical manifestations are manifested on the final stages in the natural history of cancer.
What are the symptoms of cancer?
Cancer symptoms are quite varied and depend on where the cancer is located, where it has spread, and how big the tumor is. Some cancers can be felt or seen through the skin – a lump on the breast or testicle can be an indicator of cancer in those locations. Skin cancer (melanoma) is often noted by a change in a wart or mole on the skin. Some oral cancers present white patches inside the mouth or white spots on the tongue.
A: A sore that does not heal
U: Unusual bleeding or discharge
T: Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
I: Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
O: Obvious change in a wart or mole
N: Nagging cough or hoarseness
U: unexplained anemia
S: sudden weight loss
Other cancers have symptoms that are less physically apparent. Some brain tumors tend to present symptoms early in the disease as they affect important cognitive functions. Pancreas cancers are usually too small to cause symptoms until they cause pain by pushing against nearby nerves or interfere with liver function to cause a yellowing of the skin and eyes called jaundice. Symptoms also can be created as a tumor grows and pushes against organs and blood vessels.
For example, colon cancers lead to symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, and changes in stool size. Bladder or prostate cancers cause changes in bladder function such as more frequent or infrequent urination. As cancer cells use the body’s energy and interfere with normal hormone function, it is possible to present symptoms such as fever, fatigue, excessive sweating, anemia, and unexplained weight loss.
However, these symptoms are common in several other maladies as well. For example, coughing and hoarseness can point to lung or throat cancer as well as several other conditions. When cancer spreads, or metastasizes, additional symptoms can present themselves in the newly affected area. Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes are common and likely to be present early. If cancer spreads to the brain, patients may experience vertigo, headaches, or seizures. Spreading to the lungs may cause coughing and shortness of breath. In addition, the liver may become enlarged and cause jaundice and bones can become painful, brittle, and break easily. Symptoms of metastasis ultimately depend on the location to which the cancer has spread.