According to the latest Globocon 2018 study, it is estimated that in India 1 out of every 5 men and 1 out of 6 women are at risk of developing cancer in their lifetime. It is therefore very important to be aware of this killer disease.
India is the largest democracy in the world, accounting for 17% of world population, 2.9% of the world’s land area but sadly accounts for 27 % of the world’s Cancer Burden and this is a worrisome trend. Over 11.7 lakh new cases are diagnosed every year in India. There are four priority cancers namely breast cancer, cervical cancer, oral cancer, and lung cancer constituting almost 41% of the total cancer cases. 3 out 4 patients that are diagnosed are at an advanced stage. In India the most common cancers affecting men are Cancer of lung, oral cavity, pharynx, oesophagus and stomach, whereas women are affected by Cancer of cervix, breast, ovary, oral cavity and oesophagus. Tobacco is associated with 75% of all cancers.
What is Cancer?
A disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.
When does one suspect to have cancer?
In order to suspect cancer we need high level of suspicion and knowledge regarding the signs of cancer. The keyword is “CAUTION”
C – change in the in bowel or bladder habits
A – A sore/ulcer that does not heal
U – Unusual bleeding and discharge
T – Thickening of breast or testicles
I– Indigestion or difficulty swallowing.
O-obvious change in the size, color, shape, or thickness of a wart, mole, or mouth sore.
N-Nagging cough or hoarseness.
What to do if you notice the symptoms?
Relax there is no need to panic, ideally visit your family doctor who can guide you to a fellow oncologist who may be Surgcal, Medical or a Clinical Oncologist. Do Not Google your symptoms and jump to conclusions or fall prey to miracle cures.
Is Cancer equivalent to a death sentence or is there a cure?
No it not a death sentence, with the evolution of oncology and advent of newer modalities of treatment eg Surgical techniques, newer chemotherapy regimes, newer radiation machines, cancer management better results. We are seeing patient living long post treatment with reasonable quality of life. But we have to keep in mind survival and tumors are organ specific and also the stage at which they present. For example in Breast cancer the survival rates is 90-95% in Stage I&II while in Stage III is around 70% whereas in stage IV it falls to 40%.
So awareness and early detection is of utmost importance which is highlighted through on 7th November every year on the “NATIONAL CANCER AWARENESS DAY”
Remember “Cancer does not define you, it is YOU who defines Cancer.
What are the healthy practices that we can inculcate in our daily lives to avoid Cancer?
First and foremost there are no practices that will make you Cancerfree, however there are a few which will reduce your chances of developing cancer.
- Cruciferous vegetables are rich in phytochemicals, folate, vitamins E and K and fibre. It has been found that if one eats more cruciferous vegetables, then there is a lower risk of colorectal and colon cancer.
- Carrots It has been found that the risk of certain types of cancer is reduced if one eats more carrots. There is a reduction in the risks of stomach cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer.
- Beans There are high amounts of fibre, protein, vitamin B and folate in beans, which may help in protection against colorectal cancer. Beans also reduce the risk of prostate cancer and intestinal cancer.
- Avocados are highly effective in fighting cancer. There are large amounts of nutrients including many potent anti-oxidants and phytochemicals as well as vitamins including vitamin E, minerals, fibre, monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. They are helpful in reducing the risk of major chronic diseases including oral cancer and breast cancer.
- Cinnamon It has the ability to reduce blood sugar and ease inflammation. It has also been found in some studies that cinnamon helps in decreasing the spread of cancer cells.
- Olive Oil There are numerous health benefits of olive oil. In many studies, it has been found that a higher intake of olive oil may help protect against cancer.
- TurmericThere are a number of health-promoting properties in turmeric. Its active ingredient, curcumin, is a chemical that has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and even anticancer.
In multiple studies, it has been found that allicin, the active component in garlic, can kill off cancer cells. Garlic is also rich in Diallyl Disulfide. The risk of colon cancer, skin cancer and lung cancer is also reduced on consumption of garlic.
- Seeds (Flax, Chia, Hemp) Some seeds such as flax, chia and hemp are rich in phytoestrogens, antioxidants and fibre. They help in reducing the risk of breast cancer and tumours.
- Tomatoes have lycopene. It is responsible for its vibrant red colour as well as its anticancer properties. Tomatoes are highly effective in reducing the risk of breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.
Colon Cancer: A lot of research has been done on colon cancer in relation to exercise. It has been found that there is a 24% lower risk of cancer in those individuals who exercise regularly. There is also a relation between a decreased risk of colon adenomas (polyps), which can develop into cancer, and exercise.
Breast Cancer: There has been a lower risk of cancer in women doing regular exercise in comparison to those who do not, according to many studies.In both premenopausal women and postmenopausal women, exercise has been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. However, the evidence of this is stronger for postmenopausal breast cancer.
Endometrial Cancer: The relation between exercise and the risk of endometrial cancer has been studied in many studies
Endometrial cancer: The chance of development of endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus) is two to about four times more likely in obese and overweight woman than normal-weight women and the chance of development of the more common of the two main types of this cancer is seven times more likely in extremely obese women.
Colorectal Cancer: The chance of developing colorectal cancer is about 30% more likely to develop in obese people than normal-weight people. In both men and women, increased risks of colon and rectal cancers are associated with a higher BMI, but in men, the increases are higher than in women.
Breast Cancer: As a breast, cancer doctor will tell you, a modest increase in the risk of breast cancer is associated with a higher BMI in postmenopausal women according to many studies. The risk of developing breast cancer among postmenopausal women is 20% to 40% more in those who are obese than those who are normal weight.
Gallbladder Cancer: There is a slight (about 20%) increase in the risk of gallbladder cancer in overweight people compared with normal-weight people and the increase is 60% in obese people.
Pancreatic cancer: is 1.5 times more likely to develop in overweight or obese people than in normal-weight people
- Tobacco: in any form kills. WHO has already declared tobacco as “the single most preventable cause of cancer in the world”. Not only tobacco is bad for our personal health but it also causes loss of productivity (nearly 18,500 crores annually) which surpasses the revenue and employment government generates through the tobacco industry. Tobacco causes 13 different types of cancer namely Head and Neck, Lung, Leukemia, Stomach, Kidney, Pancreas, Colon, Bladder & Cervix in addition to chronic diseases
- Alcohol : IARC classifies it as a Grade1 carcinogen.
· Esophageal and stomach cancer
· Liver cancer
· Breast cancer: Numerous studies have proved the association of alcohol intake with the risk of breast cancer in women. It is found that with increasing alcohol intake, the risk of developing breast cancer also increases.
· Colorectal cancers: There is a moderately increased risk factor of the colon and rectum associated with alcohol consumption. It is seen that those who regularly consume more than 50 grams of alcohol have increased the risk of developing colorectal cancer than non-drinkers
Cervical Cancer: studies show that poor access to menstrual hygiene has increased the incidence of cervical cancer, as has been noticed by more incidence of cervical cancer in the rural areas of India.
Carcinoma penis: More in males who do not maintain personal hygiene
Moreover, the need of the hour is awareness of cancer and prompt initiation of treatment.
Come lets rise above cancer