‘Cancer’ is usually associated with a feeling of helplessness, despair and fear of death. An important reason for this is the misconception that cancer is incurable. However, this may be true for cancers found in advanced stage (Step IV). Some cancers that are diagnosed in the early stages and even in the advanced stages have a very good chance of cure. Compare this with high blood pressure and diabetes which are incurable – only controlled by medication and lifestyle changes.
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The incidence of cancer is increasing; This is due to a combination of factors like changing lifestyle, eating habits, lack of physical activities. Tobacco use, in any form, is the most important cause and risk factor for many cancers, but importantly for cancers of the oral cavity, voice box, lung and esophagus.
Preventive measures to reduce the risk of cancer are:
- Avoiding the use of tobacco in all forms.
- Regular physical activity – maintaining a healthy weight.
- Regular consumption of vegetables and fruits.
- Avoid alcohol.
- protect the skin.
- Regular health check-up.
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Cough – not getting better even on regular treatment.
Blood in sputum, stool or urine.
Bleeding between periods and after menopause.
lump in breast
lump anywhere in the body – especially if there is a sudden increase in size
Change in voice – not getting better even with regular treatment.
sudden weight loss and loss of appetite
Cancer screening is advocated for early diagnosis and reduction of cancer deaths in the following situations:
- Breast cancer screening with breast self-examination, annual physical test by a nurse or doctor and sono mammography after 45 years of age.
- Colonoscopy in people at high risk of colon cancer
- low dose CT scan for smokers
- Serum PSA for prostate cancer after the age of 50 – after consultation with the urologist.
(Dr Rajesh Mistry, Director, Oncology, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital Mumbai)
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