Sonali Bendre diagnosed with cancer highlights the need for timely diagnosis

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Most cancers are preventable provided people undertake screening regularly

New Delhi, 4th July 2018: Veteran Bollywood actor Sonali Bendre on Wednesday revealed that she has been diagnosed with a high-grade cancer that has metastasized. With this, she falls in the category of other celebrities such as Manisha Koirala and Irrfan Khan who were also diagnosed with different types of this disease recently. While the latter has recuperated, Irrfan is still undergoing treatment. The need of the hour therefore is to create awareness on the need for timely health checks at every stage of life and taking preventive action.

There are about 2.5 million people living with cancer in India and over 7 lakh new cases get registered every year. Of all the various types of cancer, those of the oral cavity and lungs in males and cervix and breast in females account for about 50% of all related deaths in the country.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “The news of Sonali Bendre being diagnosed with the disease only points to one fact: the importance of timely diagnosis and action. 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 tumor. Tumors can either be benign or malignant. There are four major types of clinical preventive care: immunizations, screening, behavioral counseling (lifestyle changes), and chemoprevention. Screening is the identification of an asymptomatic disease, unhealthy condition, or risk factor. Primary prevention are interventions to keep disease from occurring (e.g., immunization for communicable disease); secondary prevention as detection of early asymptomatic disease (e.g., screening); and tertiary prevention as reducing complications of disease (e.g., eye examinations in patients with diabetes). This nomenclature is applied differently by some other disciplines.”

Symptoms that should prompt a person to get tested for cancer include a triad of any symptom or sign that is unexpected, unexplained or appearing for the first time.

Sudden and unexplained weight loss; unexplained fever; unexplained extreme fatigue; unexplained recurrent pain in any part of the body; unexplained changes to the skin such as darkening, itching, and reddening; unexplained changes in bowel habits; unusual bleeding or discharge; unusual white spots on the tongue; and unexplained nagging cough or hoarseness all can be the examples.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President of CMAAO, said, “Cancer, if detected early, can be treated at a much lower cost compared to that incurred when diagnosed at an advanced stage. The mortality rate is also lowered substantially if people report for screening when the earliest symptoms manifest. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, reducing patients’ chances of cure and survival.”

Dr Aggarwal further said that in most metastatic cancers which have spread the source can be traced. Cancers of unknown primary or CUP accounts for up to 4 to 5 percent of all cancer diagnoses and can be classified into four categories: Adenocarcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, Neuroendocrine carcinoma (differentiated or poorly differentiated) and poorly differentiated cancer. Accurate prediction of the tissue of origin using immunohistochemical staining and/or gene expression profiling is now possible in most CUP patients, and site-specific therapy based on these predictions is replacing empiric chemotherapy as the new treatment standard.

Some tips from HCFI

Here are some ways in which one can diagnose and prevent the onset of cancer at an early stage.

  • Pay attention to symptoms and get yourself checked regularly.
  • Using any type of tobacco puts a person at an increased risk of cancer. Avoiding or stopping the consumption of tobacco is one of the foremost steps in cancer prevention.
  • Filter tap water properly as this can reduce your exposure to possible carcinogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals.
  • Get vaccinated on time and as per schedule. For example, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent most cervical cancers and several other kinds of cancer.
  • Drinking plenty of water and other liquids can help in reducing the risk of bladder cancer by diluting the concentration of cancer-causing agents in urine and helping to flush them through the bladder faster.
  • Most importantly, make lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which can help ward off diseases.

Diet can go a long way in preventing cancer

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine, Social Health Community Comments Off

There is a need to create awareness that any type of cancer can be symptomless

New Delhi, 19 May 2018: The incidence of multiple myeloma (MM) varies from 1.2 to 1.8 per 100,000 in India. Approximately, 50,000 new MM cases are diagnosed each year. Men are more likely to develop this condition than women. The signs and symptoms of MM vary and in the early stages of the disease, there may be no symptoms at all.

MM is a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Multiple myeloma causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow, where they crowd out healthy blood cells. Rather than produce helpful antibodies, the cancer cells produce abnormal proteins that can cause complications.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Although the definitive cause of MM is not known, there may be several factors contributing factors such as a genetic abnormality (c-Myc oncogenes). It is not a hereditary disease as nothing conclusive has been established thus far. Environmental exposures to herbicides, insecticides, benzene, hair dyes, and radiation may also be responsible. Apart from this, inflammation and certain infections may also be triggers. The condition almost always starts out as a relatively benign condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). As myeloma cells crowd out normal blood cells, multiple myeloma can also cause anemia and other blood problems.”

Some signs and symptoms of this condition include bone pain (especially in the spine or chest), nausea, constipation, lack of appetite, confusion, fatigue, frequent infections, weight loss, weakness or numbness in your legs, and excessive thirst.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President of CMAAO, said, “The combination of treatments for MM depends upon to whether a person is a good candidate for bone marrow transplant. This depends on the risk of the disease progressing, a person’s age, and overall health. MM also causes a number of complications, and therefore, one may need treatment for those specific conditions as well. This includes kidney problems and eventually anemia.”

Some tips from HCFI
An anti-cancer diet can go a long way link preventing not just MM but other types too. Some tips one can follow are given below. Eating fruits and vegetables at every meal.
• Choosing whole grains instead of foods containing processed or refined grains.
• Limiting processed and red meats.
• Practicing eating habits that allow you to maintain a healthy weight.
• If you drink, limiting alcohol to two drinks daily if you’re a man and one if you’re a woman.

Retinoblastoma can be treated upon early detection

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Several cancers are treatable, however, there still remains lack of awareness about this fact

New Delhi 3rd February 2018: A rare form of cancer, affecting only about 2,000 people in India per year, Retinoblastoma, is the most common among the cancers of the eye in children under the age of five. About 92% of such children live in the developing nations. Many children lose their eye sight or die from this cancer due to lack of awareness of the initial signs of presentation, poor access to proper treatment or lack of finances to finish the treatment.

Retinoblastoma is a cancer that starts in the retina, the very back part of the eye. It occurs when nerve cells in the retina develop genetic mutations. These mutations cause the cells to continue growing and multiplying when healthy cells would die. This accumulating mass of cells forms a tumor.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “In children with retinoblastoma, the disease often affects only one eye. However, one out of three children with retinoblastoma develops cancer in both eyes. One of the first common signs of this cancer is a visible whiteness in the pupil called ‘cat’s eye reflex’ or leukocoria. This becomes more noticeable in dim light or in photographs taken with a flash. On World Cancer Day, it is important to raise awareness on the fact that Retinoblastoma is often curable when it is diagnosed early. However, if it is not treated promptly, this cancer can spread beyond the eye to other parts of the body. This advanced form of retinoblastoma can be life-threatening.”

Some other symptoms of this condition include poorly aligned or “wandering” eye, known as strabismus; reddish pupil, often with pain; larger-than-normal pupil; different-colored irises; and poor vision or decreased vision.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “When retinoblastoma is suspected, a pediatric ophthalmologist examines the retina by dilating the eye, sometimes under general anesthesia. They may also prescribe some imaging tests, like an ultrasound of the eye, a computerized tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), as well as blood tests.”

People with retinoblastoma may want to consider genetic counseling before having children to learn more about the risks of passing on the gene change and perhaps to explore ways to avoid this. If a preventive option is not used, children born to a parent with a history of retinoblastoma should be screened for this cancer starting shortly after birth because early detection of this cancer greatly improves the chance for successful treatment.

One of the focus of the year ling 25th years of Perfect Health Mela Celebrations will be on retinoblastoma awareness.

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