Truth About - The Truth About Cancer, The [world Service]

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Screen And Treat In Tanzania20170626

Anu Anand on how vinegar and a head torch are used to tackle cervical cancer in Tanzania.

The ‘Pap’ smear, to identify those at risk of cervical cancer, is one of the most successful cancer screening tests ever invented. Vaccines to protect against the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer, have also been developed.

Yet in Tanzania, cervical cancer is devastating the country. It strikes more women than any other cancer and most women die within five years of diagnosis.

Anu Anand asks why the disease is so rife here and finds out how Tanzanians are tackling it with a cheap and low-tech alternative to the Pap smear.

No lab equipment, microscopes or electricity are needed. Instead, health workers stain the cervix with shop-bought vinegar to reveal any pre-cancerous lesions. With the help of a head torch, the lesions are visible to the naked eye.

The treatment for these pre-cancerous lesions is just as low-tech. A cryotherapy ‘gun’ shoots out carbon dioxide to freeze and destroy the pre-cancerous cells before they turn to cancer.

The treatment is so simple that Anu was even allowed to give it a try – not on a real cervix but on the butchered meat that nurses train on to hone their skills.

These simple, low-cost techniques are now providing countries like Tanzania with the tools they need to catch and treat women with cell changes on their cervix before cancer develops.

Producer: Beth Eastwood

Photo credit: Anu Anand ©

Screen And Treat In Tanzania20170626

Anu Anand on how vinegar and a head torch are used to tackle cervical cancer in Tanzania.

The ‘Pap’ smear, to identify those at risk of cervical cancer, is one of the most successful cancer screening tests ever invented. Vaccines to protect against the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer, have also been developed.

Yet in Tanzania, cervical cancer is devastating the country. It strikes more women than any other cancer and most women die within five years of diagnosis.

Anu Anand asks why the disease is so rife here and finds out how Tanzanians are tackling it with a cheap and low-tech alternative to the Pap smear.

No lab equipment, microscopes or electricity are needed. Instead, health workers stain the cervix with shop-bought vinegar to reveal any pre-cancerous lesions. With the help of a head torch, the lesions are visible to the naked eye.

The treatment for these pre-cancerous lesions is just as low-tech. A cryotherapy ‘gun’ shoots out carbon dioxide to freeze and destroy the pre-cancerous cells before they turn to cancer.

The treatment is so simple that Anu was even allowed to give it a try – not on a real cervix but on the butchered meat that nurses train on to hone their skills.

These simple, low-cost techniques are now providing countries like Tanzania with the tools they need to catch and treat women with cell changes on their cervix before cancer develops.

Producer: Beth Eastwood

Photo credit: Anu Anand ©

Anu Anand on how vinegar and a head torch are used to tackle cervical cancer in Tanzania.

01Dying In Comfort In Mongolia20170612

The Mongolian matriarch who’s helping people with terminal liver cancer die in comfort.

Anu Anand travels across the globe to investigate how different countries are tackling cancer, one of the world’s biggest killers.

In this first of six programmes, Anu travels to the freezing plains of Mongolia to find out why these traditionally nomadic people, living in a rugged environment, are so prone to the slow and silent killer - liver cancer. She asks why it is hitting Mongolians so hard and meets one local matriarch who is leading a crusade to help those who cannot be cured to die in comfort.

The country has the highest death rate from liver cancer, six times the global average, and most people have no idea they have the disease until it is too late. It is caused by two strains of the Hepatitis virus and at least a quarter of the population are infected with at least one. Alcohol, which is cheap and plentiful, exacerbates the problem.

Today Mongolia is embracing palliative care to ease the suffering of patients as they approach the end-of-life. While this branch of medicine is a well-established in the West, it was completely unknown in Mongolia 15 years ago.

It was only when professor Odontuya Davaasuren heard of the existence of palliative care, and lobbied for change, that Mongolia started to embrace this crucial aspect of cancer medicine. Today hospitals and pharmacies in every province provide support and medication to the terminally ill, and beds for the dying in hospitals and hospices are on the increase.

Photo credit: Anu Anand ©

Producer: Beth Eastwood

01Dying In Comfort In Mongolia20170612

The Mongolian matriarch who’s helping people with terminal liver cancer die in comfort.

The Mongolian matriarch who’s helping people with terminal liver cancer die in comfort.

Anu Anand travels across the globe to investigate how different countries are tackling cancer, one of the world’s biggest killers.

In this first of six programmes, Anu travels to the freezing plains of Mongolia to find out why these traditionally nomadic people, living in a rugged environment, are so prone to the slow and silent killer - liver cancer. She asks why it is hitting Mongolians so hard and meets one local matriarch who is leading a crusade to help those who cannot be cured to die in comfort.

The country has the highest death rate from liver cancer, six times the global average, and most people have no idea they have the disease until it is too late. It is caused by two strains of the Hepatitis virus and at least a quarter of the population are infected with at least one. Alcohol, which is cheap and plentiful, exacerbates the problem.

Today Mongolia is embracing palliative care to ease the suffering of patients as they approach the end-of-life. While this branch of medicine is a well-established in the West, it was completely unknown in Mongolia 15 years ago.

It was only when professor Odontuya Davaasuren heard of the existence of palliative care, and lobbied for change, that Mongolia started to embrace this crucial aspect of cancer medicine. Today hospitals and pharmacies in every province provide support and medication to the terminally ill, and beds for the dying in hospitals and hospices are on the increase.

Photo credit: Anu Anand ©

Producer: Beth Eastwood

The Mongolian matriarch who’s helping people with terminal liver cancer die in comfort.

02Taking On Tobacco - Lung Cancer In Uruguay20170619

Uruguay takes on Big Tobacco in crusade to save its citizens

For more than 65 years we have known that smoking kills. So how can it be that a Mexican wave of tobacco use, disease and death is heading at breakneck speed towards the world’s poorest people? Millions will die of lung cancer and it is hard to grasp that this is a largely preventable disease.

Uruguay in South America could hold the key to breaking this wave. Under a President who is a cancer specialist they introduced some of the most radical tobacco control policies in the world and attracted the wrath of corporate tobacco giant, Philip Morris, in the process. Anu Anand reports on Uruguay’s crusade to save its citizens.

Producer: Fiona Hill

Photo credit: Anu Anand ©

02Taking On Tobacco - Lung Cancer In Uruguay20170619

Uruguay takes on Big Tobacco in crusade to save its citizens

For more than 65 years we have known that smoking kills. So how can it be that a Mexican wave of tobacco use, disease and death is heading at breakneck speed towards the world’s poorest people? Millions will die of lung cancer and it is hard to grasp that this is a largely preventable disease.

Uruguay in South America could hold the key to breaking this wave. Under a President who is a cancer specialist they introduced some of the most radical tobacco control policies in the world and attracted the wrath of corporate tobacco giant, Philip Morris, in the process. Anu Anand reports on Uruguay’s crusade to save its citizens.

Producer: Fiona Hill

Photo credit: Anu Anand ©

Uruguay takes on Big Tobacco in crusade to save its citizens

04The Usa’s Deadly Racial Divide € Black Women & Breast Cancer20170703

Anu Anand explores why more black women are more likely to die of breast cancer in the US

If you are a black woman with breast cancer in Los Angeles you are 75% more likely to die than a white woman and the gap is growing. These devastating differences in survival rates are repeated across the US, suggesting that African-American women are missing out on life-saving treatment.

Anu Anand investigates the poor care on offer in parts of LA and she reports from Chicago, where similar disparities a decade ago sparked a city-wide initiative to close the deadly divide. She explores what might be causing the racial death gap and whether Chicago’s attempts to close it could provide a model for other parts of the US.

(Photo: Female Hands Holding Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon. Credit: CatLane)

Producer: Fiona Hill

If you are a black woman with breast cancer in Los Angeles you are 75% more likely to die than a white woman and the gap is growing. These devastating differences in survival rates are repeated across the USA, suggesting that African American women are missing out on life-saving treatment.

Anu Anand investigates the poor care on offer in parts of LA and she reports from Chicago, where similar disparities a decade ago sparked a city-wide initiative to close the deadly divide. The programme explores what might be causing the racial death gap and whether Chicago’s attempts to close it could provide a model for other parts of the USA.

Picture: Female Hands Holding Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon, credit: CatLane

Producer: Fiona Hill

04The Usa’s Deadly Racial Divide € Black Women & Breast Cancer20170703

Anu Anand explores why more black women are more likely to die of breast cancer in the US

If you are a black woman with breast cancer in Los Angeles you are 75% more likely to die than a white woman and the gap is growing. These devastating differences in survival rates are repeated across the USA, suggesting that African American women are missing out on life-saving treatment.

Anu Anand investigates the poor care on offer in parts of LA and she reports from Chicago, where similar disparities a decade ago sparked a city-wide initiative to close the deadly divide. The programme explores what might be causing the racial death gap and whether Chicago’s attempts to close it could provide a model for other parts of the USA.

Picture: Female Hands Holding Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon, credit: CatLane

Producer: Fiona Hill

04The Usa’s Deadly Racial Divide € Black Women & Breast Cancer20170703

Anu Anand explores why more black women are more likely to die of breast cancer in the US

If you are a black woman with breast cancer in Los Angeles you are 75% more likely to die than a white woman and the gap is growing. These devastating differences in survival rates are repeated across the USA, suggesting that African American women are missing out on life-saving treatment.

Anu Anand investigates the poor care on offer in parts of LA and she reports from Chicago, where similar disparities a decade ago sparked a city-wide initiative to close the deadly divide. The programme explores what might be causing the racial death gap and whether Chicago’s attempts to close it could provide a model for other parts of the USA.

Picture: Female Hands Holding Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon, credit: CatLane

Producer: Fiona Hill

If you are a black woman with breast cancer in Los Angeles you are 75% more likely to die than a white woman and the gap is growing. These devastating differences in survival rates are repeated across the US, suggesting that African-American women are missing out on life-saving treatment.

Anu Anand investigates the poor care on offer in parts of LA and she reports from Chicago, where similar disparities a decade ago sparked a city-wide initiative to close the deadly divide. She explores what might be causing the racial death gap and whether Chicago’s attempts to close it could provide a model for other parts of the US.

(Photo: Female Hands Holding Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon. Credit: CatLane)

Producer: Fiona Hill

05Catching Prostate Cancer Early In Trinidad20170710

Anu Anand on detecting and treating prostate cancer in Trinidad and Tobago.

Like other countries in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world. It is also the leading cause of cancer mortality in the population. Because of genetic factors, men of African heritage are more at risk of developing the disease and getting more aggressive forms than men of other ethnicities. Also many Afro-Caribbean men in the country have been reluctant to come forward for the tests that increase the chances of prostate cancer being picked up at a stage when it can be cured. In particular, a barrier deterring many men is a widespread myth that a digital rectal examination of the gland by a doctor can turn straight men gay.

Anu Anand meets doctors and prostate cancer survivors who are hoping to change such attitudes in T&T, and looks at the treatments that can save men’s lives if prostate cancer is diagnosed early enough.

Picture: Victor going for his last radiotherapy session, © Anu Anand

Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker

06Eating Well In Lyon: Healthy Diets To Prevent Bowel Cancer20170717

Anu Anand is in Lyon, looking at what we eat and drink and the risk of bowel cancer

Lyon has more than its fair share of Michelin-starred temples to gastronomy. It is home to traditional Lyon taverns known as bouchons, serving meaty dishes such as sausages, duck and pate, but also new contemporary restaurants, busy food markets, and vineyards.

Surrounded by delicious food, Anu looks at how what we eat and drink can affect our risk of developing cancer and in particular bowel cancer – the third most common cancer worldwide. The bowel is the lower part of the digestive system or gut and involved in processing our food.

Lyon is also home to IARC – the international agency for research on cancer – and coordinates EPIC, The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, one of the largest cohort studies in the world, with more than half a million participants recruited across 10 European countries. EPIC has discovered risk factors for bowel cancer that include obesity, alcohol and vitamin D deficiency, but like everything else nothing is straight forward. It turns out you can be a healthy weight, but also metabolically unhealthy.

Anu meets foodie blogger and cartoonist Guillaume Long and his wife to discover how millennials are reacting to some news that shocked the French – you do not need to eat meat every day. The programme also hears from Monsieur Marc Chodkiewcz who was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 73, but now – 14 years later – wants to change attitudes to cancer. As Anu tours the foodie delights of Lyon she digests the latest data, and asks what should we be doing to lower the risk of this very common cancer.

Cartoon:© Guillaume Long