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Cancer fear and denial 'is killing thousands'

Sometimes covertly referred to as the “C” word cancer can still cause havoc for individuals and families even if they never say the word. Perhaps the most prevalent root causes for cancer fear is knowing a close friend or relative that struggled with and died from the disease. Watching them either die quickly from the disease or struggle for a longer period of time causes many individuals to not only fear cancer, but hate it. That hate can show up in the form of denial. Thousands of people in the Kenya are dying unnecessarily because they are too scared to mention early symptoms of cancer to their doctor, say experts.

Surveys show that over 40 percent might delay getting symptoms checked out because they are worried what the doctor might find.

Yet early diagnosis is key to treating cancer successfully.

Many reports showing high incidence of cancer presenting when it has already spread to other parts of the body highlight just how much more we have to do to raise awareness about the early signs of cancer.

If patients are diagnosed when the cancer is still in its early stages before it has had a chance to spread to other parts of the body it is more likely that treatment will be successful. That is why it is so important for people to be aware of things that might be early signs of cancer.

As many as a quarter of patients might delay seeing their doctor with symptoms because they fear they could be wasting their doctor's time. And many do not recognize which symptoms may suggest cancer.

More than three-quarters of people asked to list possible warning signs and symptoms of cancer failed to mention pain, coughing or problems with bowels or bladder.

Of course we are all frightened of hearing that we may have cancer. But people need to know that catching the disease early gives them much better chances of surviving it.

The best precaution anyone can take is to be on the lookout for any changes in their bodies that seem unusual for them and to get them checked by a doctor. In many cases these things won't turn out to be cancer. But don't take the gamble of missing out on early diagnosis.

Anxiety & embarrassment stop women going for breast screening

By speaking to women in focus groups researchers have found that fear, anxiety and embarrassment were the main reasons given for not attending breast screening. The other reason given was denial of the disease, a belief cancer would never happen to them.

There is need to dispel some of the myths around breast cancer - it’s not a death sentence and more women are surviving this disease than ever before.

This in turn will reduce women’s fear of the disease.

Further research has shown that women aren’t aware that the risk of breast cancer increases with age and most only name two symptoms of the disease.

Symptoms include a lump or thickening in an area of the breast; change in the size or shape of the breast; dimpling of the skin; a change in the shape of the nipple; blood stained discharge from the nipple; a rash on the nipple or surrounding area; swelling or lump in the armpit.

More must be done to tackle the low uptake of screening and poor awareness of breast cancer symptoms. We must ensure that GPs, nurses and health professionals feel able to talk to women about the pros and cons of breast screening as well as what signs and symptoms they need to look out for.

Women in Kenya aged over 40 years are invited for breast cancer screening every three years. Although the process saves lives it is not possible to say how many.

Sidebar: those who fear cancer If an individual suspects cancer they may refuse to visit with a doctor, because they may reason they don’t actually have cancer unless a doctor says so.
They will not eat foods that even hint of causing cancer. They will prepare foods only in ways that don’t seem to be cancer causing and they will refuse to use products that may potentially be carcinogenic.
One obvious sign of a cancer fear is an unwillingness to discuss the issue even if it is about someone else.
Those who fear cancer will not voluntarily visit a friend or family member in the hospital with the disease.
Cancer is a horrible disease, but the fear of not knowing might be more detrimental to receiving a timely diagnosis.
The accumulated stress of this fear can cause multiple physical problems

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Sometimes covertly referred to as the “C” word cancer can still cause havoc for individuals and families even if they never say the word. Perhaps the most prevalent root causes for cancer fear is knowing a close friend or relative that struggled with and died from the disease. Watching them either die quickly from the disease or struggle for a longer period of time causes many individuals to not only fear cancer, but hate it. That hate can show up in the form of denial.

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