“In India, the war on Cancer is often lost due to delay in diagnosis.”
The cure rate in cancer is more than 80% in early-stage cancer, this outcome goes below 30% in advance stage cancer treatment in spite of best effort and a cost which is often 3-5 times more the cost of treating early cancer. As we strengthen awareness about symptoms and make our citizens alert on cancer, this war should become easy.
These are the simple ways to detect Cancer in early stage:
1. Cancer symptoms are not unique. Any symptom persisting for more than 3 weeks should alert us to rule out cancer.
2. A single episode of unusual blood discharge/foul smelling discharge from any of the orifices(rectum,vagina, etc.) should again warn us and one should investigate to rule out cancer.
3. Change in voice or persistent cough, specially for smokers and all above 40 years of age, should alert a person to seek opinion and rule out cancer.
4. Everyone irrespective of age, socioeconomic status and habits are at risk for cancer, hence, nothing should be taken lightly, unless a diagnosis is stablished. If there is any lesion anywhere, biopsy must be done. Biopsy is the first step, and often out of fear, people avoid biopsy, which is the biggest cause of delay.
5. A nevus, ulceration, papilloma on skin which shows any change in character (irregular margins, surface or change in colour) must be dealt with and biopsy must be done.
6. Any lump/ glands in breast, neck, axilla or groin must be worked on for proper histologic diagnosis. The fear that cancer will spread by needle biopsy is just a myth.
7. Any unexplained weakness/fever/weight loss must be investigated thoroughly.
8. Altered bowel movements(constipation/diarrhoea) should be checked by endoscopy/imaging (Not only ultrasound). There is no scope for empirical treatment.
9. People with family history of colon or breast cancer should get screened or assessed for any prior genetic disposition. Though 95% of breast and colon cancer patients do not have any family history.
10. Regular screening after the age of 50 years should be helpful in picking any early signs of cancer.
The details presented are as told to NewsMobile’s Aanehi Mundra.
(The Author is the Chairman of Max Institute of Cancer care)