In order to detect cancer at its earliest stage to prevent millions of untimely deaths worldwide, Indians need to shun fear and come forward for early screening if symptoms persist of any kind, healthcare providers said on Saturday.
On the occasion of World Cancer Day, doctors said that most cancers can be cured and many can be controlled, particularly if they are identified and dealt with as soon as possible.
“The mere mention of the word ‘cancer’ sends a shiver down the spine. The mental states of cancer patients and caregivers in such a situation are beyond description,” said Dr Sudarsan De, Director, Department of Radiation Oncology, Jaypee Hospital.
In a Fortis Hospital Mumbai study, 81 per cent respondents stated that fear of diagnosis was a major problem associated with early screening and timely intervention.
About 83 per cent respondents attributed prolonged tobacco consumption, unhealthy and junk meals, and relevant family history to increased risk of cancer.
Dr Boman Dhabhar, Senior Consultant-Medical Oncology, Fortis Hospital, Mulund said access to care is a key aspect of this study.
“When it came to challenges faced by patients and their caregivers, the study found that 28 per cent respondents highlighted the need to build public awareness, 26 per cent respondents highlighted the need for affordable care and 15 per cent respondents highlighted the need to enable cancer care across all geographies,” said Dr Dhabhar.
Dr Prriya Eshpunyani, Consultant-Thoracic OncoSurgey, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, said that having a robust, during and post-treatment ecosystem is as important as getting diagnosed and treated on time.
“As patients and their caregivers continue to work towards completing treatment and returning to near normalcy, having an ecosystem that enables this progression is key. Healthcare organisations must make efforts to offer this support to patients,” she added.
According to Dr Malay Nandy, Director, Department of Medical Oncology, Jaypee Hospital, cancer thrives on late presentation of the disease.
“The delay makes it possible for the cancer to spread and cause harm. To win the fight against cancer, we must ensure that services for the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer, as well as palliative care, are integrated into benefit packages as part of efforts to attain universal health coverage,” Dr Nandy noted.
Breast cancer is also very common among Indians. Early detection and screening can play a huge role in battling this cancer.A
“Apart from being hereditary this type of cancer has several other risk factors including sedentary lifestyle choices like bingeing on alcohol, smoking, increasing obesity among youngsters, and poor dietary intake,” said Dr Rohan Khandelwal, Lead Consultant and HOD — The Breast Centre, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram.
The risk of breast cancer can be reduced by maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding poor lifestyle choices like alcohol and smoking while exercising regularly.
“Lifestyle changes like eating a balanced diet, physical exercise, abstaining from alcohol and tobacco use will go a long way in attaining this objective. Such efforts will not only save them from getting cancer, but will also help preserve quality life,” said Dr. Ashish Goel, Director, Department of Surgical Oncology, Jaypee Hospital.