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Monday, June 10, 2013

Throat Cancer : in response to the Micheal Douglas statement

I decided to compile a few FAQs in response to the Micheal Douglas statement to possibly prevent a mass hysteria. I will try to be simplistic with my language, I said try oh if you still no get abeg no vex no be me create the terms na learn I just learn am.

What is Throat cancer?

Throat cancer or Head and Neck cancer (HNC) as it is commonly referred as is any cancer arising from the structures in the head and neck region. Mostly they arise from the coverings (epithelium) of the oral and respiratory tract. For those who were paying attention to primary school biology know that although then nose and mouth start separately they join briefly to form a common cavity the finally separate into two tubes leading the stomach and the chest (lungs) respectively. But if you still no remember or no go school no wahala I will list out the structures that can be affected. The nose, the back of the nose (nasopharynx), mouth, back of the mouth (oropharynx), the common passage (pharynx), and the voice box (larynx).

Wetin dey cause this throat cancer sef?

As the covering structures are in close contact with the good and bad agents on their way to the chest and stomach they are largely susceptible to cancer.  The most implicated agents are tobacco (smoked and chewed), alcohol, marijuana and recently human papillomavirus.

Ehen now wetin be this HPV matter for everywhere first cervix now throat?

HPV na virus where like to build house inside the cells of the structures that cover body’s internal/external structures. HPV hijacks the cells machinery and cause production of more viruses and immaturation of the cell. E.g Just like wen dat new governor show begin use all your state money to develop only himself and cohorts, ensuring that your state remains primitive and him people flourish. Eventually some of him boys go spread go become governor of other states repeat the same process eventually one of them go become presido damage the whole country (cancer). About 70-90% of sexually active women harbor these viruses in their genital tract. About 95% of these women will clear the infection without any intervention. In just a few women the infection will persist and progress to cancer.

So wetin concern sex inside this matter now?

For cervical cancer where one guy (zur hausen) win nobel prize for this work them show say, the trauma (yes trauma) associated with sex allows the virus to gain entry to the lower cells in the covering of the cervix. In throat cancer at present it is not known how HPV gains entry. However as the HPV type cancer are mostly seen at back of the mouth (oropharynx) where many white blood cells dey chill it is thought that maybe na dem they carry am go there wen them see them for around the mouth area.

So wetin join cervix down there and mouth now?

Hmm I no know oh, but studies have shown that people with more sexual partners and or partners with cervical cancer have a higher incidence of HPV type throat cancer. Also some people also showed that those with HPV type throat cancer agreed more to having oral sex. However all this are not really reliable as they depend on people to talk lie or truth. Also, this cancer is mostly seen in young people with no exposure to smoking and alcohol. It is possible that this could be a plausible explanation but other mechanism/routes may also be responsible.

How do I know if I have it?

Unfortunately unlike cervical cancer where screening can detect the early stages for throat cancer there are no screening methods. If you do have a sore throat, ear ache or lump in your neck which has persisted despite drug treatment you need to visit and Ear/Nose and throat doctor to check you out.

If I get am wetin go happen

It is not all bad news, for HPV type cancers about 80-90% of people diagnosed will be alive in 5years compared with just about 60% for non-HPV types.

What can we do to prevent it ?

At present HPV vaccines can only prevent infection in people who have NOT been infected by these viruses. We all presume this to be people in their adolescence. In most developed countries young girls in these age groups are offered vaccines with the increasing incidence of HPV type back of the mouth cancer there are calls that boys of a similar age group should be vaccinated. For people who are already exposed and/or infected with the virus. Therapeutic vaccine are currently under development.

So bottom line I should stop giving “head” to my babe/wife?

Advising people to stop having multiple sexual partners has not reduced the incidence of cervical cancer in developing countries like Nigeria. Rather the use of effective and robust preventive and treatment approaches has largely been successful in the developed world. Our energies should be directed towards this.

 Dr  Ken...

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