THE NEW SUNDAY EXPRESS VOICES BUFFET MAGAZINE JUG SURAIYA S VAIDHYASUBRAMANIAM RAVI SHANKAR SHINIE ANTONY KANCHANA BANERJEE MATA AMRITANANDAMAYI PEOPLE WELLNESS BOOKS FOOD ART & CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT FEBRUARY 9 2020 SUNDAY PAGES 12 1.4 crore new cancer cases are diagnosed globally every year, it is 17.3 lakh in India Cancer 2nd and 4th leading cause of adult death in urban and rural India, respectively Myth and Reality Top doctors untangle facts from speculations, assumptions and plain fiction on the eve of World Cancer Week. Plus a glance at the latest cancer stats and research. By DAMAYANTI DATTA 75% cancers can be prevented today, if treatment is sought early 80% patients in India come to doctors too late 40% cases are detected early in Kerala, the state that records fewer cancer deaths SHUTTERSTOCK.COM F ake, fun and fantastic, myths usually tell us something about why the world is the way it is. But believing myths about cancer can be outright dangerous. Consider this: cancer is contagious and you need dollops of positivity to beat the dreaded C-word. Or this: cancer is caused by a fungus and it’s actually your body’s attempt to protect itself from the infection. From coffee to carbonates to cannabis, millions of pages on the internet tell us every day about “miracle” cures for cancer. And it is hard to distinguish fact from fiction, because few illnesses cause as much terror or have as many misconceptions that refuse to die. Here, some of the country’s leading oncologists bust old myths and bring new hope, as an explosion of new research changes the way cancer is perceived, understood and treated. Top five cancers in India account for 47.2% of all cancers CHANGING PATTERN IN THE COUNTRY YOUNG LUNG LIP & ORAL PATIENTS cancer up cancer with breast and in the rising colorectal metros among cancers men CERVICAL down THE ORIGIN Random factors 5% genetic defects BREAST CANCER zooming among women Decreasing trend in cancers of the lower part of stomach, increasing trend of cancers of the upper part of stomach 25% due to tobacco 30% linked to diet 15% due to infections MEN 1. Lip, Oral Cavity 2. Lung 3. Stomach 4. Colorectal 5. Esophagus WOMEN 1. Breast 2. Lip, Oral 3. Cervix 4. Lung 5. Gastric 9 OUT OF 10 CANCERS ARE LINKED TO ENVIRONMENTAL & LIFESTYLE FACTORS Hormone disbalance, sexual problems, old age, unnecessary pill popping to toxic chemicals in food Alcohol, tobacco, smoking to excessive red meat consumption Vehicular, industrial, mining pollution of air and water D THE COST ealing with cancer means making some tough choices. How you decide to seek medical help will determine your chances of cure. Hence, education is vital. The most common concerns patients come to me with are often some of the biggest myths. I find it painful that the myths are very much alive even among the educated classes. I make time to engage with my patients to dispel the misconceptions and to create awareness about the bad effects of these myths. Remember, you have a far better chance of beating the disease if you can dispel the fallacies and false notions. Cancer is now the leading cause of catastrophic health spending, distress financing, and increasing expenditure before death in India Out-of-pocket expenditure is three times higher for private inpatient cancer care in the country 40% of cancer costs are met through borrowing, sale of assets and contributions from friends and relatives These costs exceed 20% of annual per capita household expenditure in 60% of Indian households with a patient with cancer DR HARIT CHATURVEDI Chairman, Max Institute of Cancer Care, Delhi MYTH Biopsy can disturb cancer cells and cause them to spread to other parts of the body . It disturbs me that people still come to me and say “I don’t want to , do a biopsy The truth is: there is little .” reason to worry that a biopsy allows cancer cells to spread within the body . Medical evidence shows that this is unlikely In fact, patients who have biopsy . procedures to confirm their diagnosis and determine the cancer’s stage have a better outcome and longer survival than patients who do not have a biopsy . The point is, how can you diagnose a cancer without biopsy? Cancer treatment starts only after biopsy It is the first . landmark event in the definitive diagnosis of a cancer. That is crucial in determining and planning the correct treatment for a patient. If a biopsy indicates a benign disease, the patient is spared unnecessary treatments. Biopsy may involve discomfort and bleeding, but the gain far outweighs the REALITY risks. I ask my patients if biopsy is responsible for cancer spreading, then all the people coming to me should have initial stage cancers, since they haven’t done biopsy as yet. I bring in their own examples: how come your own cancer has spread, as all the imaging, MRI, CT and PET scans show, although you have not done biopsy? Yet faith in this myth continues. It is a key reason why treatment gets delayed in our country We have to . understand that cancer does not wait for any procedure to spread. MYTH Chemotherapy means the cancer is terminal. Hence, avoid chemo. The second set of cancer myths I come across revolves round chemotherapy My patients ask a lot of . questions about it: they want to know if chemotherapy means the illness is terminal, if the side-effects of chemo will completely disrupt their life completely , and if chemo is really worth it. A lot of patients do not wish to go through it. The truth is: chemotherapy certainly does not mean a cancer is terminal. It is essential for many cancer patients. The more advanced cancer you have the more you need chemotherapy In fact, chemo. therapy is often a preventive measure to prevent recurrence and to improve the odds of cure. It also ensures faster recovery Chemotherapy has evolved . considerably over the decades. The drastic side effects are not as prevalent today It . does not disrupt a patient’s everyday life the way it used to once. With the advances in chemotherapy more and more people , are surviving and doing well after cancer treatment. Turn to page 2 REALITY
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