Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to the other parts of the body. Not all cell growths are cancerous in nature.
The need of cancer awareness in the population is very important, as cancer is spreading at a very rapid pace and people are dying mostly due to this disease.
They present in the advanced stage to the hospital wherein treatment is not possible and the only way out is palliative care. Awareness and early detection are pillars for cancer control and management.
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Of the various causes for cancer, tobacco use is the major one, which leads to about 22% of the cancer-related deaths.
Other causes are food habits, personal hygiene, lifestyle, air pollution, alcohol, physical activity and infections like human papilloma virus (HPV) and hepatitis C infection. These are all environmental factors.
Furthermore, there are also certain factors leading to genetic changes in the cell that cause cancers. Some cancers occur due to the inherited defective genes from the parents.
Possible signs and symptoms include change in bowel or bladder habits, ulcer that does not heal with medication, lump or swelling in the body, abnormal bleeding or discharge from anywhere in the body, difficulty in swallowing solid or liquids, anaemia, weight loss, persistent cough with bloody sputum, etc.
Many cancers can be prevented by not using tobacco products, avoiding gutka usage, avoiding alcohol, consuming more of vegetables, grains and fruits.
Common cancers in India include cervical cancer, oral cancer and breast cancer. All these cancers can be detected early by using certain simple screening tests like PAP smear, oral examination by the doctor and mammography.
Investigation And Treatment:
Basic investigations like blood test, urine analysis test, stool examination, chest x-ray, sonography of the abdomen, endoscopy, mammography, PAP smear,etc, can be performed to detect most of the cancers. Biopsy is the confirmatory test.
Investigation should be done to find out if there is any occurrence of the spread of the disease before starting any treatment.
The major modalities of the treatment include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and palliative therapy for the advanced-stage disease.
Hence, our advise for all is to undergo a health check-up every year with basic investigations, as this would help in preventing cancer of all forms.
Postgraduate degree in Community Medicine from the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute.
Dr. Ibrahim Nagnoor was the former Head of the Department of Community Oncology at the Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bangalore.