Only 12.5% of those with cancer avail treatment at an early stage of the disease

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India is witnessing a steep rise in cancer cases, majority of which are due to lifestyle factors

New Delhi, 15 October 2018: Recent research suggests that there has been an increase in the incidence of gastrointestinal (GI) and skin cancer among locals in the Ladakh region of India. The high altitude, exposure to excessive ultraviolet (UV) rays, lack of oxygen, and a sedentary lifestyle are some of the causes attributed to the increase. The rise in GI cancer is mostly due to the unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle which includes consumption of stored meat and hot beverages.

GI cancer is more common in men over the age of 40. Women who have undergone menopause are also prone to it. What adds to the burden is that fact that people are not aware of the early symptoms of this condition especially in Ladakh. There is also a lack of access to cancer treatment and proper drugs to combat GI cancer.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Cancer cases in India are rising not just because of better diagnostic facilities but also owing to the shift in the way we lead our lives. About one-third of cancer deaths are related to 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks namely tobacco, high BMI, low fruit and vegetable consumption, lack of physical activity, and alcohol use. Creating awareness becomes especially important as only 12.5% of patients come for treatment in early stages of the disease. Although cancer has become an epidemic with a steep rise in its incidence, the irony is that cancer medicines are very expensive and beyond the reach of a common man. Thus, price control is very necessary to provide people with affordable cancer medicines. The government should also take adequate steps to ensure early diagnosis of cancer because it is a proven fact that early diagnosis can save many lives.”

The theme for the 25th MTNL Perfect Health Mela 2018 this year is Affordable Healthcare. As a part of the event, the Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) also launched a campaign on ‘Make in India for Cure in India’.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Make in India is imperative for Cure in India and it must be promoted to ensure that no one lacks access to timely treatment. This covers medical devices as well. The aim is to achieve the overall goal of affordable health care for all by making all critical and lifesaving medical devices available and accessible at affordable prices.”

Some prevention tips from HCFI.

Here are some lifestyle changes one can make to prevent cancer.

  • Avoid using tobacco in any form: Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas.
  • Consume a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is important to prevent the risk of cancer.
  • Maintain a healthy weight This can lower the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney. Physical activity every day is important to not just reduce weight but also keep fit.
  • Avoid risky habits: Habits such as unsafe sex and sharing needles can lead to infections that, in turn, might increase the risk of cancer.

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

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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.

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