New Direction in Treatment of Cancer
An expert expects that in 10 years there will be a cure for cancer. Speaking to The Independent newspaper ahead of the World Cancer Day on 4 February 2017, Prof. Karol Sikora, who is a former head of the World Health Organisation’s cancer programme, said that advancement in genetics meant that doctors would be able to prescribe drugs targeted explicitly at cancer.
Sikora said the tumours in 100 women with breast cancer would all be unique, but “understanding the molecular cogs that make cancer cells different to normal cells and therefore developing drugs personalised to cancer” would allow “personalised, precision medicine”.
He said, “What it will do is suppress cancer and convert it into a long-term chronic disease. Most patients with cancer tend to be in their 50s or 60s. If they live another 20 or 30 years, they will effectively live a normal lifespan.”
Sikora suggested that this medical revolution could happen “in the next five to 10 years.”
A new research output reviewed by Dr. Micheal Lam suggests that a specific antimalarial drug, if given in a particular way, can help to cure cancer. The drug was found to be very active against leukemia and colon cancer. It was also discovered to be active against breast cancer, melanomas, prostate cancer, CNS and renal cancer.
According to research, the effectiveness of this particular antimalarial drug is such that it is comparable with other standard drugs used to fight cancer.
The ongoing concerted global war against cancer has raged for over 80 years. The weapons of this war continue to be three-fold: surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Over the same period, there have been rapid improvements in technology and medical science.
One would expect the treatment of cancer to have steadily improved and become more successful. Unfortunately this is not the case. In fact, the global incidence of cancer has increased by 44 per cent since 1950, with breast cancer and male colon cancer rising by 60 per cent and prostate cancer rising by 100 per cent.
According to a recent survey, about 44 per cent of Americans are expected to develop cancer soon. Also, an investigation conducted by WHO showed that cancer accounts for 13 per cent of all deaths registered globally and 70 per cent of that figure occurs in middle and low-income countries. In Nigeria, about 10,000 cancer deaths are recorded annually, while 250,000 new cases are filed every year.
In the developed countries, the average cancer patient today has a 50 per cent chance of living another five years by following treatment, which is the same odds he or she had way back in 1971. In the developing countries, we are just beginning to approach even this percentage.
A relatively common type of cancer in Nigeria is liver cancer.
No one can live without a properly functioning liver. The liver is the most extensive internal organ of the body. It is also one of the organs that is most exposed to toxins as it works to keep us healthy.
The liver converts food into substances needed for life and growth. It produces most of the clotting factors that prevent excessive bleeding from injuries. It stores glycogen and amino acids and performs protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism. It also produces enzymes and bile that helps to digest food and neutralise toxins in our body. Some of the drugs we take are eliminated in the liver, especially the ones that are not capsules.
Each year, about 26,000 Americans die of cirrhosis of the liver, while 21,000 others are diagnosed with primary liver cancer. Both liver cirrhosis and cancer are on the rise all over the world. In Africa, the rise of both ailments is due to the people’s westernised lifestyle, diet and environmental toxins.
Over 83 per cent of cases of liver cancer occur in developing countries. In Nigeria, liver cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, accounting for over 11,000 deaths yearly and 32 deaths every day. The average age of occurrence in Nigeria is about 46 years compared to the developed world where the average age of appearance is in the mid-60s. Its existence is commoner in men, with a male: female ratio of about 2:1.
Worldwide, liver cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, accounting for more than 700,000 deaths each year. The leading cause of liver cancer is liver cirrhosis usually from viral hepatitis or chronic alcoholism. Another important reason for the prevalence of liver cancer in Africa China, and South-East Asia is exposure to aflatoxins. The aflatoxins are a group of chemicals produced by the fungus Aspergillus.
Liver Cirrhosis is a medical condition in which the liver slowly deteriorates and malfunctions due to chronic injury. Scar tissues are formed in the liver which gradually replaces healthy tissues and results in a hardened liver. These scar tissues are irreversible, and they block the flow of blood through the liver, preventing the organ from functioning correctly.
Liver cirrhosis can lead to liver cancer, which is the growth and spread of abnormal cells in the liver. Cancer can start in the liver (primary liver cancer) or it can spread to the liver from another organ (metabolic or secondary liver cancer.)
The following are causes of liver cirrhosis and cancer of the liver:
Chronic alcoholism (excessive consumption of alcohol taking over four glasses of wine daily or 6 bottles of beer weekly)
Chronic Hepatitis B & C infections
Alcoholic liver disease
Biliary obstruction (when bile does not flow appropriately within designated channels in the gallbladder)
Exposure to toxins such as metabolites from certain drugs, and aflatoxins
Inherited genetic illnesses such as alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease (excessive copper in the blood), galactosemia, and glycogen storage disease
Prolonged exposure to environmental toxins such as Arsenic
During the early stage, many people with cirrhosis /cancer of the liver may not experience any symptoms. However, as the scar tissues progressively replace the healthy tissues, the liver functions begin to fall and the person may represent with:
Bleeding from engorged veins in the esophagus or intestine
Easy bruising from vitamin k deficiency
Gallstones, diabetes, itchy hands and feet, lack of appetite
Loss of interest in sex/ impotence
Dark, cola-colored urine
Weight loss, especially in liver cancer
Yellowness of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
Swelling of the abdomen (ascites)
Bloating, body itching.
To be continued