Tropical Medicine

Cancers in the Tropics

Cancer In Tropics

Cancer is a broad term that includes damage to the immune system, development of tumours and other fatal impairments. In the tropics, 40% of the worlds population suffer from advanced and incurable stage of many types of cancers. Further improvements are needed to overcome significant deficiencies in the great advancements made pertaining to treatment, prevention and control of cancer progression.

Cancer Spread in Tropical Region

Cancer is a disease of cellular changes that causes cells to divide and grow uncontrollably. Cancerous cells lack essential components required for cell death or to stop cells from dividing. These cells use nutrients and oxygen needed to nourish normal cells. Cancerous cells can form tumours, impair the immune system and cause other changes that prevent the body from functioning normally. Many cancers found in subtropical and tropical countries have a strong association with infectious pathogens like Mediterranean lymphoma with intestinal parasites, Burkitts lymphoma with viral infection, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of bladder with schistosomiasis and liver cancer with hepatitis B virus infection. HIV infection prevalent among AIDS sufferers of tropical countries cause certain specific types of tumours and malignant cancers such as aggressive lymphomas, oral SCC or anogenital mucosa and Kaposi sarcoma.

A prime example of tropical cancer is bowel lymphoma mostly occurring in tropical areas. Alcohol consumption, Hepatitis B or C infections, iron overload and fungal toxin based food contamination like aflatoxin commonly occur in many tropical communities contributing to evolution of cirrhosis and subsequent development of hepatocellular carcinoma. Follicular thyroid cancer and papillary carcinoma is a consequence predominating caused due to iodine deficiency goitre. However, bladder tumours and cervical cancers are frequent entity that continues to occur in tropical countries. The incidence of acute or chronic leukaemia has no major difference between non tropical and tropical areas. Similarly, childhood malignant tumours occur in tropical and non tropical countries at equivalent frequency. Patchy and common distribution of oesophageal SCC is seen in some tropical areas. Renal cell carcinoma, prostatic, endometrial, ovarian and testicular cancers are unusual in the warmer climates of tropical latitudes. The pigmentary protection is possible in dark skinned people against common cancers caused by high ultraviolet exposure in the tropics.

Treatment and Prevention of Cancer

Most important and specific components causing tropical tumourigenesis or cancer in the tropics include environmental, hormonal, and genetics factors; socio-economic transition; alcohol consumption and smoking; obesity and oncogenic viruses.Suitable choices in environment and lifestyle can prevent or avoid most cancers. Chemotherapyinvolves medications or drugs associated with severe side-effects that target cancerous cells with the aim of killing rapidly dividing cells and shrinking tumours. Hormone therapy changes or interferes with the working or production of certain hormones. Hormone based therapy or approach plays a significant role in breast andprostate cancers. Immunotherapy boosts and encourages the immune system to fight cancerous cells. Radiation therapyis recommended to kill cancerous cells or shrinktumours before surgery or reduce tumour related symptoms. Lab technicians through stem cellstechnology can strengthen the fight against cancerous cells that usually benefit people suffering from blood related cancers of leukemia orlymphoma. Surgery is a treatment plan to remove lymph nodes or tumours that eventually reduces or prevents the spread of cancer. New approach of precision or personalized medicine developed involves genetic testing to determine the best way of treating cancer. Innovative research technology has fuelled the development of novel preventive and treatment strategies that should be available to tropical cancer sufferers.

Online Tropical Medicine Course at JLI

James Lind Institute (JLI) provides an online program in Advance PG Diploma in Tropical medicine, Surveillance and Immunization for knowledge on cancers occurring in tropical region. JLI also provides a course in clinical research which details the methodology for performing oncology clinical trials.

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