The focus for the month of February across the world is cancer. We, experts, are hopeful that cancer should be curable in the next 10 years. Speaking to The Independent ( a foreign publication) ahead of the World Cancer Day, a former head of the World Health Organisation’s cancer programme, Prof. Karol Sikora, said that recent advances in genetics suggested that cancer might be curable sooner than we think.

According to him, doctors will soon be able to prescribe drugs specifically targeted at each individual’s cancer.

Sikora said the tumours in 100 women afflicted with breast cancer would all be unique to each individual, but “understanding the molecular cogs that make cancer cells different from normal cells and, therefore, developing drugs personalised to each cancerous cell will be a solution.

“This is called personalised or precision medicine. These treatments will 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 for another 20 or 30 years, they would effectively live a normal lifespan,” he said and also suggested that this medical revolution would happen in the next five to 10 years.

A concerted global war on 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.

As such, one would expect that the success rate for cancer treatment would rise steadily. This, surprisingly, hasn’t been the case. In fact, the global incidence of cancer has increased by 44 per cent  since 1950, with breast and colon cancer increasing by 60 per cent  and prostate increasing by 100 per cent.

According to WHO, cancer accounts for 13 per cent of all deaths registered globally. About 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 recorded yearly.

In the developed countries, the average cancer patient today has a 50 per cent chance of living another five years following treatment, which is exactly the same odds he or she had way back in 1971. In the developing countries, we are just beginning to approach 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 largest internal organ of the body, and one of the most exposed to toxins as it works to keep us healthy. It 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 help to digest food and neutralize toxins in our body. Some of the drugs we take are eliminated in the liver, especially the ones that are not capsules.

Both liver cirrhosis and cancer are on the rise all over the world and the prevalence is rising in Africa. This is due to westernised lifestyle, diet and environmental toxins.

The average age of their occurrence in Nigerians is about 46 years compared to the  nmmdeveloped world where the average age of its occurrence is in the mid-60s. It’s more common in men compared to women.

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 properly.

This 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).

 During the early stages, many do not experience any symptoms. However, as the scared tissuesprogressively replace the healthy ones, the liver functions begin to fall and the person may represent with abdominal pain, dark, cola-coloured urine and swollen abdomen.

Managing cancer

Over the past 50 years, conventional treatments of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy have been the cornerstone of cancer treatment. Today, the clinical success of these treatments has reached a plateau, and there is an urgent need to break through this cure plateau with new ideas.

Naturally oriented physicians view natural therapies as a way to complement conventional ones to  help the patient overcome cancer without suffering toxic side effects.

Today, many natural and non-toxic modalities are offered in countries such as Switzerland, Germany, England, Mexico, and the Netherlands, co-existing harmoniously with conventional treatments. The results are excellent. Modern natural medicine approaches cancer therapy by incorporating the use of antioxidants, lifestyle changes, herbs, removal of heavy metals and other environmental toxins, as well as dietary modifications.

These approaches help to prepare the cancer patient’s body for conventional treatments while reducing toxic side effects. The use of both natural and conventional therapies in a logical and judicious manner makes sense.

Neither conventional nor alternative treatment holds the magic bullet in cancer treatment. Combining the best of both worlds to combat cancer and its side effects makes the most logical sense for the patient.

Today, many patients opt for combination therapy, using both conventional and alternative cancer treatments. This combined therapy is becoming more and more popular as the success rates are higher than either one alone.

These benefits are easily achieved through medically supervised detoxification programmes, such as the Mayr-type of detoxification available at Mart-Life Detox Clinic, Maryland, Lagos.

It is true that, as regards the establishment of natural therapies, scientific documentation and double-blind studies required by modern medicine are often incomplete; but anecdotal reports from patients point to their validity.

They are by no means “quackery”. It is fair to say, however, that there is simply not enough data to pass the high level of scientific scrutiny.