Africa’s very own cancer – sickle cell anaemia

'People of sub-Saharan African descent are predominant sufferers of sickle cell disease'

In many parts of the world, cancer is a disease characterised by out-of-control cell growth that harms the body and results in a serious condition that is very difficult to treat and often leads to death.

With over 200 different types of cancer, the disease is the second most common cause of death in the US alone and accounts for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths (according to the American Cancer Society). The World Health Organisation estimates that, worldwide, there were 14 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths. Cancer does not only take people’s lives but also deeply affects the family of the sufferer.

Sickle cell anaemia (SCA) is a genetic disease (meaning that it is passed through the bloodline of people who have it) affecting the red blood cells in the body in a similar way that Leukaemia affects white blood cells in the body and ultimately leads to death of the sufferers at a young age. SCA directly affects the haemoglobin cells in the blood which leads to a lower number of healthy red blood cells in the bloodstream at any one time, causing them to sticking in blood vessels and block the flow of blood to the body.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people of sub-Saharan African descent are predominant sufferers of sickle cell disease. However, outside the community of sufferers, little is known about the disease, which is to say there aren’t many (if any) medical discoveries on how to treat or cure this plight on human life.

In an age where there has been allegation that there cure for cancer (and even HIV), cures that lays in the hand of big pharmaceutical companies, it is therefor questionable as to why not only is there little knowledge of SCA disease – but there is even less on medical advancement (not to mention cure) for it!

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