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Lung Cancer - Smoking not the Only Cause

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LECTURE DELIVERED BY MISS TOPE OROTOYE- M.Sc. Medical Physics, Pure and Applied Physics B.Tech (Hons.) ON 13TH June, 2017 on Iwoland Development Coalition’s WhatApps Page.

I am Miss Temitope Orotoye. I was born into the family of Mr and Mrs K.A. Orotoye in Ibadan, Oyo State. I am from Idi-Oro compd, Iwo Osun State. I had my primary education in Ibadan and I proceeded to the secondary school and passed out at 14+. Got admission to study Pure and Applied Physics at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology in 2007. I am a lover of sports and I got into active football at a time and was the captain of the female football team of the Pure and Applied Sciences female football team. Graduated from LAUTECH with a second class upper division with two other females and was eventually given awarded the best female personality in the department. I had my youth service in Rivers state where I was the assistant coordinator and eventually the first female coordinator of a CDS group in the history of the local government. I then proceeded to University of Lagos in 2014 to study Medical Physics at Masters Level where I graduated top of my class. I have served as an assistant medical physicist at Eko hospital,Ikeja, Lagos state. Also as a research assistant in the Department of Radiation Biology, Radiotherapy, Radidiagnosis and Radiography of the College of medicine, University of Lagos. In the course of my Masters program, I won the scholarship award for female students by Iwo Action Council  (IWAC). I have the ambition of becoming one of the female professors that Iwoland will produce and I am already working on that career path.


Good day everyone. I am Temitope Orotoye.
Well, I will like to talk on lung cancer today. First of all, there is need for us to improve the level of cancer awareness in our community. Often times, it is not the disease that kills people but ignorance which makes us neglect a lot of things that could actually help us to prevent the disease. We all know prevalence of cancer has really increased in our environment and it is no more ‘a white man’s disease’.

First of all, what is cancer?

Yorubas call this ‘Arun jejere’. It may be defined as a disease that is caused by uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells. Our body is made up of a basic unit call cells. Normally, the division and growth of cells occurs in a controlled manner. New cells are created all the time to replace old ones or to perform new functions. Cells that are damaged or are no longer needed die off and are replaced with fresh cells. So when this does not happen i.e, If the balance of division and cell death is altered, the cells become abnormal and continue to regenerate (reproduce) in an uncontrollable manner. So we can say when the normal growth pattern of cells are altered, they become abnormal and begin to form lumps or masses of tissues known as tumors. These tumors formed can also be malignant or benign.

What are tumors?

A tumor is a swelling of a part of the body, generally without inflammation, caused by an abnormal growth of tissue, whether benign or malignant.

What are types of tumors?

Malignant tumors are tumors which have the ability to spread to other parts of the body through the blood or lymphatic system thereby causing invasion of other tissues. Also, these malignant tumor can develop such that the cells divide and grow thereby making new blood vessels to feed itself in a process called angiogenesis.  Angiogenesis occur when there is blood vessel formation. Tumor angiogenesis is the growth of blood vessels from surrounding tissue to a solid tumor. This is caused by the release of chemicals by the tumor.

When this occur, there will be bleeding in the blood vessels causing more pains. It is also worthy to note that, these abnormal cells deprive normal cells of feeding on nutrients that will aid the functional growth of the cells for proper bodily function. They are life threatening. Hence, they are called cancerous tumors.
Benign tumors on the other hand are not life threatening. They are abnormal growths, but they do not spread outside the host organs. These are also called non-cancerous tumors.

There are said to be over 200 types of cancer that individuals suffer from, but for the scope of this topic we will just be talking on LUNG CANCER.

What is lung cancer?

Lung cancer is a type of cancer that occur in one or both lungs often in the cells that line the air passage. When this occur, the lung’s ability to provide the bloodstream with oxygen is weakened. This can be primary i.e., originating from the lung itself or secondary, when the cancer starts somewhere else but spreads to the lungs. Lung cancer occurs in both males and females.

To the main topic, what are the causes of lung cancer?

Cancer causes are known as carcinogens. There is need for us to be aware that SMOKERS are not the only ones at high risk of developing lung cancer. Some major factors are considered below.

  1. SMOKING - Though this is the leading cause of lung cancer as major deaths arise from tobacco, cigar, menthol cigarettes smoking, e.t.c. But the question is this, how often do you smoke? Of course you might not be a smoker, inhaling the smoke of others can also increase your risk or chances of developing lung cancer. This is known as secondhand smoking. So in case you don’t smoke but often stay around smokers, please and please, BEWARE.
  2. EXPOSURE TO ASBESTOS - This causes a major risk when inhaled and those that work in factories or industry where asbestos are produced are much at greater risk, but it is also a concern in older buildings. If building materials like ceilings, floor or tiles containing asbestos begin to decompose, there is risk of inhaling the asbestos which is also risk factor of lung cancer. However, use of asbestos should be avoided totally.
  3. AIR POLLUTION - Research on exhaust from various types of vehicles has shown that inhalation of the exhaust is a risk factor of lung cancer. Diesel exhaust has been found to contain PAHS (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) which is made up of soot and other forms of gases that are injurious to health. Hence, we should try as much as possible not to inhale any form of exhaust from air pollution such as generator, petrol, diesel exhaust, e.t.c.
  4. FAMILY HISTORY - Family members of people who have had or have lung cancers are slightly at risk of developing lung cancers themselves. This is as a result of genes shared among family members.
  5. CERTAIN DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS - Smokers are to avoid taking supplements that contain beta carotene. Some reports have shown that there is an increased risk of developing lung cancer by smokers who take such supplements.
  6. RADON EXPOSURE - In 1988, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) classified radon as a human lung carcinogen. Radon, colorless, odourless, tasteless gas which is a daughter product of radium has been found to be present in soil. The radon gas can diffuse easily out of the soil into air or houses; it can be trap in poorly ventilated houses (examples mud houses and some modern houses which uses bricks) and so its concentration can buildup to higher levels. Although the soil is considered to be the main source of radon concentration in building, raw building materials (especially quartz, cement, etc.), it can make a significant contribution to the level of natural radioactivity in closed spaces such as stones and badly- ventilated dwellings. Breathing in this gas affects the lungs. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers and the leading cause in non-smokers. So it has been recommended that cross ventilation is essential especially when staying close to the basements. Let us avoid over-crowding when there is no proper ventilation. All places must be properly ventilated. This is because this gas cannot be totally eliminated because it is in the soil, but it can be controlled.

Question: I will like to highlight some other cancer types.
1. Head and neck cancer
This is a type of cancer that develops in the brain, nose, ears, mouth, eyes and any other part of the head and neck region.
This can affect both male and female and it is one of the deadliest type of cancer because it spreads very fast.
2. Breast cancer
This develops in the breasts. Though it is mostly common among females and one of the leading causes of cancer death as it spreads very fast too,but it also affects males
4. Prostate cancer
This can only be found in males as it doesn't affect females
5. Liver cancer
Hmmm...One of the major risk factors of this is alcohol. It can't be treated by surgery just through drugs and surgery is still the gold standard of treating cancer.
6. Leukemia
This is cancer of the blood. When this occurs, the bone marrow will not be able to produce red blood cells again. And we know blood is life
7. Skin cancer
Tattoos, harsh chemicals in body creams are also some of the risk factors of this. It also affects the albinos

There are treatment modalities for cancer but early detection is the best. Let me talk briefly on the them.
1. Surgery
This is performed in the theatre and the tumor is scraped or cut or taken away from the affected tissue.(Permit my English,just for better understanding). But despite this surgery, there is need to ensure that all the affected cells are gotten rid off, else it is dangerous
2. Chemotherapy
This is the use of drugs to cure cancer. Some are taken inform of drip. These goes into the blood stream and combats the tumor cells where they are located. Chemotherapy treatment also causes loss of hair
This is the use of radiation to treat cancer. After surgery and chemotherapy, radiotherapy is given just to ensure that all the tumor cells are dead.
4. Hyperthermia
This is the use of high temperature to treat cancer, such as:
*microwave ablation- use of microwave radiation
*Radio frequency ablation- use of radio frequency radiation,e.t.c


Q: I will like to know if there is permanent cure for the treatment of cancer. Thank you ma'am.

A:There are cancer survivors. Cancer is curable if it is detected in the very early stage sir. That is why awareness is very important and necessary. If a cancer case is reported while at early stage,there are measures to use in treating. But if it is reported at the latter stage,it can only be managed. Like I said,cancer spreads, so the moment it spreads to other parts of the body it can only be managed but not cured. For example,if someone is diagnosed of lung cancer and it has spread to the breast,before you will finish treating one it might have spread to another place again.
So cancer is curable if detected in the early stage sir.

Q: Please can snuff cause cancer?

A: Snuffing tobacco causes cancer. It also contains the same chemicals as  smoking it.

Q : Is it the smoke that is the cause of cancer or the properties of the tobacco

A: The smoke contains the chemicals sir. For the person smoking, he still puffs out the smoke which nonsmoker's now inhale. So that is why the smoke is dangerous to health sir.

Q: Is cancer hereditary?

A: Gene is one of the risk factor of cancer. Reason is because family is connected by blood. For the fact that a father has cancer doesn't mean the children will have cancer too, but there is a high tendency that the children might have it. Like I said earlier, we are all made up of cells and during fertilization, it is the father and mother that contributes the genes that make up that of the child. So, cancer is hereditary.



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