Monday, February 26, 2018

Colon cancer stole the life of this great son of Africa


By Dr Chris Peterson

They say every being is a political animal but I should attest today that one of the things am not well connected with is politics.

However, two weeks ago when we lost an iconic man due to colon cancer, a malignancy that affects the colon and the rectum before it grows and invade other parts of the body, I felt ignited to speak something about politics.

I should also admit that there are a few things that keep me hooked on political trends; both in my country and beyond, such as what happened in Zimbabwe with the passing away of Morgan Tsvangirai, a longtime Zimbabwean political activist and a key figure in the opposition to former President Robert Mugabe.

He was the president of the Movement for the Democratic Change and a key figure in the opposition that kept former president Robert Mugabe on check.

He expressed protracted dissatisfaction with Mugabe’s leadership over allegations of dictatorship, racketeering and corruption that led to economical fall-down and extreme poverty among the majority of Zimbabweans.

This has always an inspiring man to me, partly because of his influence in politics and the way he dared and fought for the underserved.

But he succumbed to colon cancer, a disease he has been battling with for a long time. The disease stole the life of this great son of Africa.

For starters, colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer or bowel cancer, is the type of cancer that develops from colon or rectum (other parties of the large intestine). This type of cancer normally begins small, and noncancerous clumps of cells called polyps. These small polyps, if unchecked for over a long time, they tend to become cancers.

That’s I always urge people to go for regular screening tests to help prevent the possibility of complications from it. By identifying and removing polyps before they become cancerous I am convinced even the Tsvangirai’s story would have been different if he had he detected the disease when it was still at its initial stage.

Like majority of the cancer types, many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease and when symptoms are seen, they always depend on the size and the location of the colon lumps in the large intestine.

However, I urge people to keep a close eye and seek immediate medical attention if they go through these symptoms especially if they last for several weeks.

Such symptoms may include changes in the bowel movement including diarrhea or constipation, or changes in the consistency of your stool that lasts for more than 3 weeks.

Rectal bleeding in your stool, persistent abdominal discomforts such as cramps, gas or pain, feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely, weakness or fatigue and unexplained weight loss.

These symptoms are enough to let you make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor could also explain to you when you should begin screening for colon cancer. Generally we recommend that people start having screening for colon cancer in their 30s but don’t forget that even young people get colon cancer too due to several risk factors.

The overall risk factors and causes for colon cancers are; older age, genetic factors, certain foods especially processed foods with no fibers, alcohol, obesity, sedentary lives, diabetes and smoking.

Early detection saves lives.