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Awareness Can Cure Cancer

Awareness Can Cure Cancer

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. Early detection and treatment are crucial. Prevention through research and awareness is key.

Dr. Shubhayan Sur
March, 28 2023
2412

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012. I was returning home late that day, at nearly 12:30 or 1:00 am, after crossing the river Ganges via the Vivekananda Setu (also known as Bally bridge). On one side of the bridge, you could see the beautiful Dakshineswar Kali temple illuminated in the night.

Suddenly, a car stopped right in front of my bike, and I had to hit the brakes hard. An upset and worried lady jumped out of the car and ran towards the railing of the bridge.

I immediately thought she was going to jump off the bridge, I shouted, but she didn't hear me. Instead, she sat down on the road, folding her hands in the temple's direction, and started crying.

I later found out that she worked at an IT company in Kolkata, she had been married for six years, and a few months earlier; she had given birth to her first child, a baby girl. That same day, she received her CT scan report, which showed that she had masses in her abdomen that was likely not benign.

 

No, it is not Cancer, but the name of the disease is hiding ignorance and carelessness. This is the main disease in our society. Every year on 7th November we observe National Cancer Awareness Day. We are told to be aware of the deadly disease. But still, most of ‘us’ ignore it, hide it, and allow it to grow in our body day by day. When we go for treatment, it is seen to be late! At the late stage, the disease starts spreading from the primary organ to multiple organs like the liver, lungs, and bone- the mechanism is called Metastasis. At this stage, the treatment option is limited and impossible to cure. Doctors generally prescribe chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The therapies are painful and expensive and they can only increase survival for a few more days or months but cannot cure the disease at a late stage. 

Cancer Treatment Costing

Cancer begins when a normal, healthy cell undergoes a genetic mutation, resulting in the formation of a cancer stem cell or initiating cell. This mutation can occur spontaneously, due to hereditary factors, or as a result of environmental factors such as exposure to pollutants, arsenic, industrial gases or chemicals, tobacco and alcohol use, a high-fat diet, or viral infections. The agents that cause a healthy cell to become cancerous are called carcinogens.

 

Cigarette smoke, for example, contains around 70 different types of carcinogens, including polyaromatic hydrocarbons, N-nitrosamines, aromatic amines, 1, 3-butadiene, benzene, aldehydes, and ethylene oxide.

 

Once a cell becomes cancerous, it begins to divide uncontrollably in the primary organ, forming a small outgrowth that can rapidly grow into a large mass. Thanks to advances in surgery and modern diagnostic and therapeutic methods, the disease can often be cured at this early stage, allowing the patient to return to a normal life.

 

However, in some cases, the cancer may relapse. Some cancer cells may be resistant to treatment and difficult to eradicate, leading to their proliferation after a certain period. To prevent this, patients are advised to undergo regular check-ups after completing treatment or therapy.

 

If the cancer is not detected and treated early, it can rapidly spread from the primary organ to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, brain, and bones, through the bloodstream. At this stage, treatment becomes much more challenging and may not be as effective. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause painful side effects, and treatment may only extend the patient's survival for a few more days or months, but cannot cure the disease.

 

Cancer incidence and mortality rates are increasing rapidly worldwide, particularly in India, due to the rising prevalence of tobacco and alcohol use, as well as pollution. Cancer is now one of the leading causes of death in both developed and developing countries, alongside stroke, coronary heart disease, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In 2020, there were approximately 19.3 million new cases of cancer reported globally. Based on statistical projections, it is estimated that there will be a 47% increase in global cancer incidence between 2020 and 2040. This trend highlights the urgent need for continued research, prevention, and effective treatment options to reduce the burden of cancer on individuals and society as a whole.

 

Last year, a group of researchers from the ICMR- National Centre for Disease Informatics & Research in Bengaluru published an interesting report in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, which revealed that one in nine people in India is likely to develop cancer during their lifetime. If this trend continues, it is projected that there will be a 13% increase in cancer incidence in 2025 compared to 2020.

 

The most prevalent types of cancer in males in India are oral cancer, lung cancer, and stomach cancer, while breast cancer, cervical cancer, and ovarian cancer are the most common types in females. Lymphoid leukemia is a common form of cancer in children.

National Cancer Registry Programme of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)

According to World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 50% of all cancers are preventable. It offers the most cost-efficient and long-term strategies to manage the disease.

Precautions For Cancer

Precautions For Cancer

Precautions For Cancer

Preventive measures with early detection, timely treatment, correct treatment, and follow-up can cure cancer.

Be aware and spread awareness. Honestly follow and implement.

  1. Switch to a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Regular health check-up.
  3. Do exercise.
  4. Eat healthy and balanced foods.
  5. Quit tobacco and its different forms, betel quid, areca nut.
  6. Control or quit alcohol habit.
  7. Complete your vaccination.
  8. Get yourself checked regularly.
  9. Spread awareness to the society.

Cancer Related Research

Ongoing studies and research are aimed at inventing more advanced, sophisticated, and cost-efficient methods for early detection and treatment of cancer with minimal side effects. For example, specific markers detected through blood tests can help diagnose or predict the disease more accurately. Additionally, new drugs are being developed that can more effectively target and kill cancer cells, including those that are resistant to treatment, without harming healthy cells.

If the disease is detected in advanced or late stages, a proper treatment strategy should be implemented to ensure not only a longer lifespan but also disease-free survival. This requires a comprehensive approach that includes effective therapies to treat the cancer, as well as supportive care to manage any side effects and improve overall quality of life. 

 

India is a country with a rich diversity of medicinal plants. Some herbal plant extracts and pure compounds have shown promising results in the prevention and treatment of various types of cancer in laboratory and animal models, with no toxic side effects. Additionally, some fruits and vegetables have also demonstrated potential in cancer prevention. These ongoing studies aim to identify better treatment strategies through mechanistic research. The advantages of using plant extracts and pure compounds include their easy availability, cost-effectiveness, and minimal toxicity. Clinical trials with human subjects have already commenced for many of these compounds as an alternative approach. However, some of these compounds have demonstrated poor bioavailability in the human body, and targeted delivery remains a challenge. Researchers are continuously working with pure compounds and their analogs to improve efficacy. Furthermore, many herbal plant extracts and pure compounds have yet to be explored for their potential in cancer prevention and treatment..

Cancer and it's treatments

All efforts are made to keep you healthy and prevent diseases from affecting your life. The key to achieving this is awareness - awareness about your own health and also about society. With proper awareness, many diseases can be cured or prevented. This is why we celebrate the 7th of November every year.

 

After my encounter with the lady, I never saw her again. The strange encounter left a lasting impact on me. I wished her a speedy recovery, but I have no idea how she is doing now after almost 10 years. I do not have any updates about her daughter or family either. She introduced herself as Aparajita Ray.

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