Health articles

Cancer: Symptoms, Cause, Treatment, and Prevention
24 January 2023

Cancer: Symptoms, Cause, Treatment, and Prevention

Every year, 39,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed in Kenya. Learn about cancer symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention.

According to an article by the Kenyan Network of Cancer Organizations on Kenya Cancer Facts, there are 39,000 new cancer cases yearly in Kenya, with more than 27,000 deaths.

 60% of Kenyans affected by cancer are younger than 70 years old, and the articles break down leading cancer in women and men as follows:


  • Breast and cervical cancer in women
  • Prostate and oesophageal cancer in men

Key Takeaways

  • Cancer occurs when your DNA cells undergo mutation or you have inherited genetic disorders.
  • Cancer surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy and cryoablation are some cancer treatment options.
  • You can change your diet and lifestyle to prevent cancer.

What Are the Cancer Symptoms and Signs?

Cancer signs and symptoms will vary depending on what part of your body is affected by cancer.

For instance, a breast lump or nipple discharge may indicate signs and symptoms of breast cancer, whereas pain may indicate metastatic breast cancer.

Below are general signs and symptoms associated with, but not specific to, cancer, include:

  • Fatigue
  • Lump under the skin
  • Unintended loss or gain
  • Experiencing yellowing, darkening, or redness of your skin
  • Having changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Experiencing persistent cough or trouble breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Experiencing persistent indigestion or discomfort after eating
  • Having persistent or unexplained muscle or joint pain
  • Having persistent or unexplained fevers or night sweats
  • Having unexplained bleeding or bruising

Experiencing persistent signs or symptoms that concern you? Or don't have any signs or symptoms and need cancer screening tests?

Talk to a patient support specialist now! Let's assist you in getting the medical attention you need.

What Causes Cancer?

Cancer starts when your cells' DNA undergoes mutations or changes. Cancer can be caused by:

  •  Having inherited genetic disorders.
  • Being exposed to environmental factors, e.g., air pollution and radiation.
  • Having poor lifestyle choices, e.g., smoking and excessive use of alcohol.

What Are the Cancer Treatment Options?

Cancer treatments aim to treat and manage cancer. The treatment may vary as follows:

  • Primary treatment. It seeks to kill all the cancerous cells in your body.  
  • Adjuvant treatment. It reduces the chance that cancer will recur after the primary treatment.
  • Palliative treatment. It helps relieve the side effects of treatment or signs and symptoms. 

 Here are the types of cancer treatment options:

  • Cancer surgery. Plays a crucial role in diagnosing cancer and finding out how far it may have spread to other tissues or body organs. This type of cancer treatment aims to remove the cancerous cells from your body.
  • Chemotherapy. Uses drugs that are cytotoxic to kill tumour cells.
  • Radiation therapy. It is one of the most common treatments for cancer and uses X-rays, or protons, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be used alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, hormones, or targeted therapy.
  • Targeted therapy. This cancer treatment uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy. This type of cancer treatment, known as biological therapy, uses your immune system to fight cancer.
  • Bone marrow transplant. It treats certain types of cancer and can be used to replace diseased bone marrow.
  • Hormone therapy. Your body's hormones cause breast cancer and prostate cancer. This cancer treatment aims to remove those hormones from your body or block their effects.
  • Cryoablation. This type of cancer treatment aims to kill cancer cells with a cold.
  • Radiofrequency ablation. It uses electrical energy to heat cancer cells, causing them to die.
  • Clinical trials. Refers to studies aimed at investigating new ways of treating cancer.
  • Precision medicine. This type of cancer treatment provides a personalised approach to treating cancer.

Planning your cancer treatment can take time. Talk to a patient support specialist and get all the information you need on cancer treatment options. 

What Are Cancer Treatment Side Effects?

Side effects of cancer treatment may vary from person to person. Cancer specialist can help you manage the side effects listed below:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Bleeding and bruising (Thrombocytopenia)
  • Experiencing constipation
  • Being fatigued
  • Having fertility
  • Experiencing flu-like Symptoms
  • Experiencing hair loss (Alopecia)
  • Having memory or concentration problem
  • Experiencing nausea and vomiting

How To Prevent Cancer

Cancer prevention aims to reduce the chances of you getting cancer. Scientists have researched different ways of preventing cancer; below are some:

  •  Change your diet and lifestyle.
  • Getting screened to detect precancerous conditions early.
  • Use of chemoprevention to remove cancerous cells or prevent cancer from starting.
  • Opting for risk-reducing surgery.

Are you in need of a second medical opinion from a doctor? Or do you need cancer screening tests? Talk to a patient support specialist to get you started.