What is it?

Cancer is one of the four main non-communicable diseases in Fiji and around the world.

Cancer is the general name for a group of more than 100 diseases. Although there are many kinds of cancer, all cancers start because abnormal cells grow out of control. Untreated cancers can cause serious illness and death.

Cancer has become a global epidemic and affects people of all ages. Unfortunately, cancer cases in Fiji have steadily increased over the past several years and it is now the 3rd most common cause of death in Fiji.

In Fiji, statistics reveal that there is mostly an increasing incidence of breast, cervix and other reproductive tract cancers in women. In men cancers such as prostate, liver, rectum and lung cancer are becoming more common.

Cancer in Fiji

Though there are many different types of cancer and cancer sites, recent statistics (taken from the Ministry of Health’s 2013 Annual Report) indicate that the most common cancers in Fiji are;

Top 5 cancer sites in Men;

1. Liver

2. Prostate

3. Lung

4. Stomach

5. Colon

Top 5 cancer sites in Women;

1. Cervix (Reproductive system)

2. Breast

3. Uterus (Reproductive system)

4. Ovary (Reproductive system)

5. Liver

You can learn more about each of these types of cancer below.

How does Cancer start?

Cancer starts when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. Cancer cell growth is different from normal cell growth. Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow and form new, abnormal cells. Cancer cells can also invade (grow into) other tissues, something that normal cells cannot do. Growing out of control and invading other tissues are what makes a cell a cancer cell.

Cancer cells often travel to other parts of the body where they can grow and form new tumors. This happens when the cancer cells get into the body’s bloodstream or lymph vessels. Over time, the tumors replace normal tissue, crowd it, or push it aside. The process of cancer spreading is called metastasis.

What causes Cancer?

Cancer is a very complex group of diseases with many potential causes. There are several known factors that can increase your risk of cancer, many of which are lifestyle factors that are within your control to change.

Known Causes of cancer include;

  • Genetics
  • Tobacco Use
  • Bad Diet
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Sun and UV exposure
  • Radiation
  • Other Carcinogens (environmental causes)

How can I reduce my Risk of Cancer?

Leading a healthy lifestyle is a very good way to reduce your risk of cancer, looking at the above list of known causes, there are some very clear steps you can take to reduce your risk of cancer, and also lead a healthier and happier lifestyle. These are;

  • Don’t use tobacco
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Be Active and maintain and healthy weight
  • Reduce/Moderate Alcohol Intake
  • Practice safe sex and avoid risky behaviours
  • Get Immunised (HPV & Hepatitis)
  • Know your family medical history and get regular screenings

Source: Ministry of Health

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