Wetangula: If one has cancer, must we put him or her on chemotherapy?

By Brian Okoth On Wed, 31 Jul, 2019 19:42 | 5 mins read
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula on Wednesday, July 30, asked medical practitioners in Kenya and researchers to investigate why cancer cases are exponentially increasing in the country. [PHOTO | COURTESY]
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula. PHOTO | COURTESY
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    Moses Wetangula has urged oncologists in Kenya to “resist the temptation” of quickly putting cancer patients on chemotherapy.

    Speaking on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, July 31, Mr Wetangula said doctors should make use of alternative methods of cancer treatment.

    The Senate set aside time to discuss ways in which Kenya can minimise cancer-caused deaths, which have risen sharply from 10, 000 annually in 2010 to 33, 000 deaths annually in 2018.

(Information on types of cancer treatment | Courtesy of National Cancer Institute, USA)

Bungoma Senator and Ford Kenya Party leader, Moses Wetangula, has urged oncologists in Kenya to “resist the temptation” of quickly putting cancer patients on chemotherapy.

Speaking on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, July 31, Mr Wetangula said doctors should make use of alternative methods of cancer treatment, especially among patients whose ailment has hit the advanced stages.

The Senate set aside time to discuss ways in which Kenya can minimise cancer-caused deaths, which have risen sharply from 10, 000 annually in 2010 to 33, 000 deaths annually in 2018.

“If one has cancer, is it a must we put him on chemotherapy? [When] you are put on that thing, you wake up after three days and discover you do not have hair, beard, or hair on any other part of the body. Only that, is enough to kill you,” said Mr Wetangula.

The Bungoma senator further asked the medical practitioners and researchers to investigate why cancer cases in Kenya are exponentially increasing in the country.

“We are told that taking too much alcohol causes cancer. Just go to Russia, where they are taking vodka for breakfast, lunch and dinner. How comes Russia is not having a cancer pandemic?” posed Mr Wetangula.

The lawmaker’s remarks come two days after the death of Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso; the third prominent person to succumb to cancer in a span of one month. The other two are former Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, who succumbed to blood cancer on July 1, and Kibra MP Ken Okoth, who lost his battle with colon cancer on July 26.

-Chemotherapy-

Chemotherapy (also called chemo) is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells.

Chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide quickly. Chemotherapy is used to:

  • Treat cancer
Chemotherapy can be used to cure cancer, lessen the chance it will return, or stop or slow its growth.
  • Ease cancer symptoms
Chemotherapy can be used to shrink tumors that are causing pain and other problems.

For some people, chemotherapy may be the only treatment you receive. But most often, you will have chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. The types of treatment that you need depends on the type of cancer you have, if it has spread and where, and if you have other health problems.

When used with other treatments, chemotherapy can:

  • Make a tumor smaller before surgery or radiation therapy. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
  • Destroy cancer cells that may remain after treatment with surgery or radiation therapy. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
  • Help other treatments work better.
  • Kill cancer cells that have returned or spread to other parts of your body.

Chemotherapy not only kills fast-growing cancer cells, but also kills or slows the growth of healthy cells that grow and divide quickly. Examples are cells that line your mouth and intestines and those that cause your hair to grow. Damage to healthy cells may cause side effects, such as mouth sores, nausea, and hair loss. Side effects often get better or go away after you have finished chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy may be given in many ways. Some common ways include:

  • Oral:
The chemotherapy comes in pills, capsules, or liquids that you swallow.
  • Intravenous (IV):The chemotherapy goes directly into a vein.
  • Injection:
The chemotherapy is given by a shot in a muscle in your arm, thigh, or hip, or right under the skin in the fatty part of your arm, leg, or belly.
  • Intrathecal:
The chemotherapy is injected into the space between the layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord.
  • Intraperitoneal (IP):The chemotherapy goes directly into the peritoneal cavity, which is the area in your body that contains organs such as your intestines, stomach, and liver.
  • Intra-arterial (IA):The chemotherapy is injected directly into the artery that leads to the cancer.
  • Topical:
The chemotherapy comes in a cream that you rub onto your skin.

Chemotherapy is often given through a thin needle that is placed in a vein on your hand or lower arm. Your nurse will put the needle in at the start of each treatment and remove it when treatment is over. IV chemotherapy may also be given through catheters or ports, sometimes with the help of a pump.

-OTHER METHODS OF CANCER TREATMENT-

There are many types of cancer treatment. The types of treatment that you receive will depend on the type of cancer you have and how advanced it is. Some people with cancer will have only one treatment. But most people have a combination of treatments, such as surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

-Surgery-

When used to treat cancer, surgery is a procedure in which a surgeon removes cancer from your body.

Surgeons often use small, thin knives, called scalpels, and other sharp tools to cut your body during surgery. Surgery often requires cuts through skin, muscles, and sometimes bone. After surgery, these cuts can be painful and take some time to recover from.

-Radiation Therapy-

Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

At low doses, radiation is used in x-rays to see inside your body, as with x-rays of your teeth or broken bones.

At high doses, radiation therapy kills cancer cells or slows their growth by damaging their DNA. Cancer cells whose DNA is damaged beyond repair stop dividing or die. When the damaged cells die, they are broken down and removed by the body.

Radiation therapy does not kill cancer cells right away. It takes days or weeks of treatment before DNA is damaged enough for cancer cells to die. Then, cancer cells keep dying for weeks or months after radiation therapy ends.

-Targeted Therapy-

Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets the changes in cancer cells that help them grow, divide, and spread.

Targeted therapy is the foundation of precision medicine. It is a type of cancer treatment that targets the changes in cancer cells that help them grow, divide, and spread. As researchers learn more about the cell changes that drive cancer, they are better able to design promising therapies that target these changes or block their effects.

Immunotherapy to Treat Cancer-

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune systemfight cancer. The immune system helps your body fight infections and other diseases. It is made up of white blood cells and organsand tissues of the lymph system.

-Hormone Therapy-

Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the growth of cancer that uses hormones to grow. Hormone therapy is also called hormonal therapy, hormone treatment, or endocrine therapy.

Hormone therapy falls into two broad groups, those that block the body’s ability to produce hormones and those that interfere with how hormones behave in the body.

-Stem Cell Transplant-

Stem cell transplants are procedures that restore blood-forming stem cells in people who have had theirs destroyed by the very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy that are used to treat certain cancers.

In a stem cell transplant, you receive healthy blood-forming stem cells through a needle in your vein. Once they enter your bloodstream, the stem cells travel to the bone marrow, where they take the place of the cells that were destroyed by treatment. The blood-forming stem cells that are used in transplants can come from the bone marrow, bloodstream, or umbilical cord. 

-Precision Medicine-

Precision medicine is an approach to patient care that allows doctors to select treatments that are most likely to help patients based on a geneticunderstanding of their disease. This may also be called personalized medicine. The idea of precision medicine is not new, but recent advances in science and technology have helped speed up the pace of this area of research.

Today, when you are diagnosed with cancer, you usually receive the same treatment as others who have same type and stage of cancer. Even so, different people may respond differently, and, until recently, doctors didn’t know why. After decades of research, scientists now understand that patients’ tumors have genetic changes that cause cancer to grow and spread.

They have also learned that the changes that occur in one person’s cancer may not occur in others who have the same type of cancer. And, the same cancer-causing changes may be found in different types of cancer.