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Cancer awareness and care can make difference: Specialists

India Blooms News Service | | 04 Feb 2016, 07:04 pm
New Delhi, Feb 4 (IBNS): As the incidence of cancer in India grows, awareness and palliative care will make all the difference, in the fight against this deadly disease, feel experts.
For any type of cancer two important measures should be kept in mind -- early cancer detection and prevention. For the first, health check-ups should be done once a year after the age of 30, experts says. 
 
“Screening! Sceening! Sreening! I can’t emphasise enough on the early diagnosis of any cancer. It makes all the difference between life and death, e.g. a simple blood test (PSA) can detect early prostate cancer which is, today, by and large curable,” says Dr Ajit Saxena a pioneer in Urology Robotic Surgery and Andrologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi. 
 
Cancer is caused by gene mutations, explains Dr Ganesh Bakshi, Uro-Onco surgeon at Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital. It is triggered by abnormal signalling that leads to uninhibited pathways causing abnormal growth. 
 
In India, despite low meat intake and high fibre diet, incidence of cancer is increasing. Lifestyle changes for the worse, ageing, repeated infections, immunity changes, pollution are all exogenous factors which can induce mutations that give birth to cancer, says Dr Bakshi. 
 
It is known that a high fibre diet with moderate intake of red meat and alcohol, regular exercise along with abstinence from smoking can decrease chances of developing neoplasm, or abnormal tissue growth. 
 
Dr. Saxena cites medical research that says healthy, wholesome diets including certain plant products e.g. turmeric and various antioxidants having anti-cancer properties, can prevent many forms of cancers. 
 
Concurs, Mumbai-based oncologist, Dr Dinesh Pendharker who also serves on the Board of Zoctr Health, that offers home-based palliative care to cancer patients, says while good diet, adequate exercise and proper stress management are tools to beat cancer, regular screening tests that help early detection and can often save lives. 
 
For those above 50-years he recommends tests including Mammograms, PAP Smear, PSA etc. 
 
“But once detected, facing the situation and seeing a surgical oncologist who can administer a timely and evidence based treatment is the best way forward. Delaying treatment can make it difficult to cure and adds to pain and discomfort,” advises Dr Avinash Saklani, Oncologist at Tata Memorial Hospital. 
 
The treatment is decided on multiple factors such as stage of disease, performance status, access to health care facilities, says Dr Bakshi, adding that treatment in early stages and relatively younger age groups is usually aggressive whereas in some patients with certain stage 4 cancers, the treatment would have a palliative approach. 
 
The effort of Oncologists is to reduce suffering and pain and help the patient lead a better quality of life, even as the patient’s body fights back. However, the most important thing is to maintain a positive attitude and reach out to family, friends or support groups. 
 
"Many companies in India are now offering homecare medical service that can administer palliative care in the comfort of the patient’s home which helps the caregivers. Nurses and attendants are trained not only in providing care but are also familiar with processes such as Tracheostomy Management, Stoma Care, Onco Emergency Recognition etc.," says Dr. Pendharkar, who serves on the board of one such company, Zoctr.