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What Every Indian Should Know to fight against cancer

Every year, lakhs of Indians are devastated by news of cancer, when the doctor says him/her “I’m sorry to tell you, but you have cancer”. On an average, more than 1,300 Indians succumb to the dreaded disease every day. With new cancer cases or its incidence in India estimated to grow by 25% by 2020 (according to the cancer registry released by the Indian Council of Medical Research), cancer has become one of the major causes of death occurring in the country. Women, especially, are being increasingly diagnosed with cancer.

It is important know about cancer and what you can do about it.

What is it?

Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases that are caused when a group of abnormal cells begins to grow uncontrollably, often forming a tumour.

There are two types of tumours.

benign tumours : They do not spread, or invade, nearby tissues. When removed they usually don’t grow back. An important fact is that unlike most benign tumors elsewhere in the body, benign brain tumors can be life threatening.

malignant: These are tumours that invade nearby tissues, sometimes spreading to distant areas of the body (known as metastasizing). This tumour are more dangerous as they give rise to new tumours and can recur even after removal.

The good news is that if cancer is detected in its early stages, it can be treated and an individual can lead a healthy life. Also, advances in treatment and awareness of symptoms mean that 85 per cent of those diagnosed live beyond five years.

The cancer scenario in India

The number of cancer cases in India is increasing every year. According to WHO’s Cancer Report, in India, lung, oral, lip, throat and neck cancers are the most common among men while women suffer more from cervix, breast and ovarian cancers. In the elderly, the most commonly occurring cancers are kidney, intestine and prostate cancer.

Here are some informational statistics, see above picture.

Cancer photo


Risk on persons may vary?

It is usually not possible to know exactly why one person develops cancer and another doesn’t. However, research has shown that certain risk factors may increase a person’s chances of developing cancer. These include things people cannot control, like age and family history. Lifestyle choices that increase your chances of contracting breast cancer are the usual suspects such as smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and poor diet.

It’s important not to miss those clues. Ignorance and denial leads to delayed diagnosis and treatment; most Indians change doctors when asked to go in for a screening or biopsy. Other than the fear of invasive treatment, disfigurement and financial burden, the ill-placed belief that a cancer patient will always die makes patients and their families refuse specialized treatment.  

Hence, when it comes to cancer, it’s important to remember that early treatment is the best treatment. Experts suggest that if you notice any other major changes in the way your body functions or feels you should see a doctor, especially if the changes persist for more than three weeks or gets worse. It may not be cancer but it’s safer to get it checked out.

Cancer photo