CancerInformation

What is Cancer?

In simple terms, cancer is an abnormal growth of body cells. Each one of us is born with a potential for cancer. One cannot "Catch" it as one would an infection or a cold. When the programming of a cell or a group of cells is affected, growth may become uncontrolled. Some of the factors that can alter the code are chronic irritation, tobacco, smoke and dust, radioactive substances, age, sex, race and heredity. While one cannot control many of these factors , we need to be aware of the ones we can control of. Prevention is definitely better than treatment of cancer. No one yet talks of cure, treatment:

What is the difference between normal and malignant cells?

Normal cells grow in a well regulated pattern. When cancer sets in, a group of cells suddenly starts multiplying in a haphazard and uncontrolled way, forming lumps or tumors. a malignant tumor never stops growing and can spread to other parts of the body.

Broadly, there are 19 cancers that can be generally related to life style.

1Cancer of the Bladder

This is a slow growing cancer, and responds well to treatment. Tobacco and chronic irritation are prime causes. House painters, hair dressers, truck drivers, textile workers and printers are at a risk due to the chemicals they are constantly in touch. Blood in urine and painful passing of urine are symptoms to beware.

2Breast Cancer

Women who have menstruated early, with late or no pregnancies, late menopause, which have not breast fed their babies, are particularly at risk. If there is a family history of cancer - your mother, sister, massi or naani - please treat it as an early warning sign. Learn and practice breast self-examination, and have mammograms as recommended by your gynecologist. Evaluate diet too, too much of fat in your diet is a certain culprit. Selenium found in the soft bones of the fish, as well as whole grain protect against breast cancer. Exercise on regular basis.

3Cervical Cancer

The most common of women's cancer in India. This is a slow growing cancer that can easily be detected by a Pap smear. Not all Dysplasia become cancerous, women who menstruate early, marry early, with many sex partners, many children and poor anti natal care, as well as poor genital hygiene are likely to get this cancer. Intake of vitamin A and C and B folate are good as preventives. Intake of tobacco increases the chances of getting this cancer by 50%

4Colorectal Cancer

This is linked to high fat and low fiber diet. It is a rich mans' disease, and prevalent in the richer countries. Diarrhea, pain in the abdomen, lower back or bladder, or a change in bowel habits are symptoms of this cancer.

5Esophageal Cancer

Tobacco and alcohol predispose you to this cancer. Also pickled foods and too much spice. Symptoms are trouble in swallowing, choking, pain and spasms in the throat. Vitamin A and C are recommended as retardants.

6Cancer In the Eyes

It can be of several types. Intense exposure to U/V rays of the sun may cause it. Light eyed persons are at greater risk of melanoma.

7Kidney Cancer

It affects most men than women. Blood in the urine, backache, fullness or lumps in the upper abdomen, loss of appetite, are signs of Renal Cell Cancer. Renal pelvic cancers affect people over age of 60 years. Battery makers, electroplaters, and rubber workers are at particular risk. Tobacco, cadmium, high protein and saccharine are prime suspects.

8Laryngeal Cancers

Hoarseness and discomfort in the throat are symptoms to look out for. Tobacco, alcohol, asbestos and nickel are suspected causes.

9Liver Cancers

They may be primary or secondary. Symptoms are loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal swelling, pain, fever and jaundice. Cirrhosis is closely linked with cancer of the liver. Avoid alcohol, vinyl chloride (plastics), drug abuse, aflatoxins from fungus on peanuts.

10Lung Cancers

90% of these can be attributed to smoking. Women are catching up on men smokers. Pollution in the cities has increased chances lung cancer. To counter the toxicity of pollution, increase intake of green leafy vegetables and yellow and orange fruit. Symptoms may include persistent cough, weight loss and loss of appetite.

11Oral Cancers

They are the most common cancers in India. They include cancers of the mouth, tongue and oral cavity. This is definitely a life style induced cancer. Smoking, chewing of tobacco, and alcohol intake, coupled with inadequate Vitamin A and B complex are causes.

12Ovarian Cancers

They affect mostly post-menopausal women. It affects women with few or no children, with a history of menses problems or other cancers. Symptoms are constipation, flatulence, water retention, a need to urinate, pain, swelling or nausea.

13Cancer of the Pancreas

There is no known cure for this cancer. Symptoms are abdominal pain, jaundice, loss of appetite or weight loss. It is recommended that you abstain from tobacco use, follow a low fat diet, eat fruit and vegetables, moderately fried or grilled foods. Margarine not butter is a suspect

14Prostrate Cancer

The Silent Killer. Men over 50 years should include PSA (Prostrate Sensitive Antigen) test in their annual medical routine.

15Skin Cancers

They are more common in white skinned people. People with light eyes and hair are at risk. Look out for moles that grow dark and uneven, itch or change color and out line.

16Stomach Cancer

They are slow growing and hard to treat. People with Blood group A and who have pernicious anemia are at risk. Eat plenty of raw veg-cruciform, or dark green and yellow vegetables with vitamin A and C are best. Avoid highly salted or smoked or pickled foods.

17Testicular Cancer

Men with undescended testicals are at risk. Enlargement of one testicle, dragging ache in the lower abdomen are signs to beware of. Regular self examination is strongly recommended.

18Thyroid Cancers

They are common in women of child bearing age. Survivors of nuclear holocausts at Bikini Atoll, Nagasaki and Hiroshima suffered these cancers due to exposure to radiation.

19Uterine Cancer

It affects women over 50 years. Hormone treatment, high fat diets, smoking and drinking, obesity, diabetes and high BP are risk factors. The Pap smear is again an early warning tool.

Danger Signals

  • A persistent sore especially if it is in the mouth, on the lip or on tongue. Long standing sores due to smoking, sharp edge of teeth, or dental plates that do not fit, can develop into cancer if not taken care of. Common 'Cold Sore' disappears after a few days - Cancer does not. If any such sore persists more than a few days, see your doctor.
  • Lumps or masses which appear where none were present previously should arouse suspicion of cancer. This is especially true in the case of women and is the most readily cured if treated early.
  • Persistent indigestion or change in bowel habits, while usually due to other causes, are often caused in the intestinal tract and should be reported.
  • Unexplained or abnormal bleeding from anybody opening should be quickly investigated by a physician. Coughing up or vomiting blood, passing blood in the urine and rectal bleeding are common symptoms of cancer. In women the first sign of cancer of the uterus is often a bloody discharge occurring between menstrual periods or after menopause.
  • Persistent hoarseness or cough of abnormal duration deserves a careful examination by your doctor. Cancer of the larynx (voice box) or respiratory passages or lung may be the cause.
  • Unexplained loss of weight may be due to many things but may also be due to hidden cancer.

FAQs

What It Is?

What is Cancer?

The body is made up of trillions of living cells. Normal cells grow, divide to make new cells, and die in an orderly way. Cancer starts when cells start to grow out of control and instead of dying, continue to grow and form new, abnormal cells.

Cells become cancer cells because of changes to their DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). In a normal cell, when DNA is damaged the cell either repairs the damage or dies. In cancer cells, the damaged DNA is not repaired and the cell goes on making new cells that the body does not need.

What Causes It?

What causes cancer?

Though it is very difficult to pinpoint the definite cause. Certain substances, known as carcinogens, can definitely increase your chances of getting cancer. For instance, people who smoke or chew tobacco are more prone to mouth, throat and lung cancer, Contrary to popular opinion, beedi smoking is twice as dangerous as cigarettes. Continued irritation of tissues can lead to cancer. Pollution, preserved food, smoked and junk food are also contributory. Even certain viruses can cause cancer (EBV, Hepatitis B, HPV). Amongst other known causes are asbestos, arsenic, pitch, tar, ultra-violet rays.

Is cancer caused by a germ?

There is no scientific evidence that cancer is directly caused by a germ. Although certain viruses are known to cause cancer but they form <2% of the cancer burden.

Does cancer come from a single bruise?

No. A single injury to soft tissue or bone does not give rise to cancer.

What is the relation of food to cancer?

High fat, low roughage western diet predisposes to colon cancer. Diet rich in animal fats also contributes to breast cancer. Green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits contain certain antioxidants which prevent cancer. Recently tomato, ginger and cabbage etc. have been found to have medicinal antioxidant property. Avoid junk food, smoked food and preserved food. Be vegetarian and prevent cancer!

Will irregularity in eating cause cancer of the stomach?

There is no scientific evidence that it will, since cancer of stomach may occur in people who eat most regularly.

Does eating hot food cause cancer?

There is little evidence that the temperature of food is an important factor in development of cancer. But recently too hot food has been correlated with food pipe cancer. Too spicy food may be related to stomach cancer as is evident from its high incidence in Southern parts of India.

Does the use of alcohol bear any relation to cancer of the stomach?

Alcohol is a predisposing factor for the development of cancer of oesophagus, laryngopharynx and liver.

Is cancer hereditary?

There are probably inherited tendencies that may lead to cancers of different types. The presence of cancer in one or both parents should be a cause for greater alertness in looking for and recognising suspicious symptoms in the individual. Cancer however is not inherited except for one type of eye cancer known as Retinoblastoma. Only 5% of breast cancers are considered hereditary.

Can cancer be transmitted by kissing or casual contact between persons or between persons and animals?

No. There is no record of cancer having been transmitted by kissing or by any contact, accidental or otherwise, between individuals or between person and animals.

Do corns become cancerous?

Cancer may occur in any tissue to the body, but a corn does not as a rule develop into cancer.

Do freckles turn into cancer?

Simple freckles do not. However, flat moles containing pigment of a bluish-black colour and looking like dark freckles, may become cancerous and should be checked periodically.

Do piles turn into cancer?

No. Piles or hemorrhoids are merely enlarged veins in the rectal wall. Cancer is occasionally found in the tissue above the hemorrhoids. So "bleeding piles" should be examined carefully to determine whether cancer is also present. Rectal bleeding can occur due to cancer.

Can one's mental condition influence the course of cancer?

Cancer is a disease of body cells. One's mental condition has no direct effect on the course of the disease since this malignant change is apparently due to physical process. But positive attitudes, fighting spirits and healthy thinking helps you to cope with cancer better. So, it has an indirect bearing on response to cancer treatment.

Does radiation cause cancer?

Indiscriminate use of X-rays frequently may increase your chances of getting cancer. Lately, there are certain reports quoting higher incidence of Leukemia and Brain Tumors in persons using Cell phone. But this needs further research.

Defense Measures Called For

How can one guard against cancer?

Prevention is better than cure. More than half of the cancers are preventable! Avoid smoking and tobacco chewing in any form. Alcohol should only be taken in moderation. It is better avoided. Take low fat, vegetarian diet. Avoid ill fitting dentures, report to doctor immediately if you notice any of seven warning signals.

What is meant by a "pre-cancerous lesion"?

develop into cancer with passage of time. Cancer does not form in day's or week's time. It takes many years to develop. It passes through many stages normal cell abnormal cell Precancerous lesion Frank cancer Metastasic cancer.

What are some of the more important pre-cancerous lesions?

White spots on mucous (lining) membranes, especially of the mouth; non healing sores caused by jagged teeth and ill-fitting dental plates; dark coloured moles which itch or bleed. These should all be investigated by a physician and adequately treated. Sub mucous fibrosis with inability to open mouth, polyps in large intestine Barret's oesophagus associated with reflux oesophagitis are some of the conditions which should alarm the patient and physician. These require careful monitoring.

What precautions should be taken to avoid cancer of the mouth?

Cancer of mouth is a largely preventable disease. Avoid use of tobacco in any form (pan parag, pan masala, gutaka etc.) Any sore in mouth which does not heal in three weeks time should be examined by doctor and if required biopsied. Keep the mouth clean. Have jagged teeth filed or removed. Do not use an ill-fitting dental plate, which causes a sore on the gums or cheek. If white spots appear in the mouth or on the tongue, stop the use of tobacco and see a doctor.

What precautions should be taken to avoid cancer of the Skin?

Dark coloured moles and warts, which become itchy or bleed or ulcerate should be removed. Fair-skinned people should avoid overexposure to direct sun rays. Recurrent blisters on the lip should be carefully examined. Skin should always be kept clean

Should all moles be removed?

No. A flat colourless mole is probably as harmless as a freckle. Bluish-black hairless moles, especially when subjected to irritation, should be removed. Any mole or wart showing changes in size or colour or bleeding should be promptly and completely removed and the tissue examined by a pathologist to determine if cancer is present.

Can immunity to cancer be acquired as with diptheria or typhoid fever?

Production of immunity is possible only in diseases caused by germs. As cancer is not caused by germs, immunity cannot be developed against it. But scientists are exploring possibilities of vaccines for cancer.

Why do many people wait before consulting a physician when cancer may be present or suspected?

Primarily because of fear. Ignorance of the signs of cancer and the vital importance of early treatment also play a role. Some people also think there is a social disgrace in having cancer and so hide the fact from their physicians and often from friends and relatives. This is not a justifiable attitude.

Can a tuberculous person ever have cancer?

He can. The presence of tuberculosis or any other disease gives no assurance that cancer will not develop.

Why don't the white corpuscles in the blood kill cancer?

The chief function of white blood corpuscles is to protect the body against bacteria or germs. They kill germs and combat infection. Current research is being undertaken to promote such activity by certain kinds of white blood corpuscles.

How can we control cancer?
  • By a prompt visit to a physician when suspicious signs or symptoms appear. Intelligent alertness by the individual may well save his life.
  • By having complete, annual physical examinations, as a routine. Women over 35 should be examined once a year.
  • By confirming diagnosis at the earliest possible moment, followed by adequate treatment.
  • By a widespread knowledge, both layman and professional, of the character of cancer, its causes, methods of spread, and by recognizing the value of early diagnosis and adequate treatment, as the means of protection.
  • Most important is prevention of cancer by change of lifestyles

How To Detect It?

How can you tell if you have cancer without seeing a doctor?

You can only suspect. A regular thorough physical check-up is your best guard against cancer, plus an examination when one of the seven danger signals or warning appears. You are the first line of defense against cancer because, you alone, can recognize a danger signal.

What are some of the early signs of cancer?

There are seven common ones. They are often called the Seven Danger Signals of Cancer:

  • Change in bowel or bladder habits.
  • A sore that does not heal.
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge.
  • Thickening or lump in breast or elsewhere.
  • Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
  • Obvious change in wart or mole.
  • Nagging cough or hoarseness.

You should at once consult a doctor upon the appearance of any sign.

Is pain an early symptom of cancer?

No, except in a cancer involving bone or nerve tissue. Pain usually is a late symptom and when it occurs, the growth is often far advanced.

Why should cancer be diagnosed and treated early?

The sooner it is found it is less likely to have spread to other parts of the body. Early cancer can be cured.

How long is it safe to wait before consulting a physician?

Any delay is dangerous. Go at once to a doctor and ask for a thorough examination.

Why are periodic examinations necessary?

The earlier a cancer is treated the greater are the chances of a cure. Through periodic examinations, cancer may be detected in its early stages, before the individual has noticed any sign or symptom in himself.

Where can you get a check-up?

RGCI & RC has all screening facilities. Any individual with or without warning signals can come for check-up. Indian cancer society also runs several check up clinics

What comprises a thorough check-up?

Thorough cancer check up means examination of all accessible body parts like head and neck, oral cavity, chest, abdomen, breast, vaginal and rectal examination. Cancer screening at RGCI&RC also includes certain blood tests, X-ray chest, US whole abdomen, mammogram, pap's smear, sputum exam, stool for occult blood and PSA (for prostate). Clinical examination and all investigations are done at nominal rates.

Is the check-up painful?

The check-up takes only an hour and is completely painless. You may phone and get an appointment.

What is mammography?

Mammography is a special X-ray examination of the breast tissues. It is a quite sensitive test to pick up early lesions of the breast.

What is a pap smear?

The papanicolaou test, (or pap smear) is in fact a microscopic examination of the cells exfoliated from the uterus and cervix. The doctor takes a swab from the tissue surface for examination. This test warns patients of the presence of early pre-cancerous lesion.

Is bleeding always a sign of cancer?

No. Bleeding should be promptly and carefully investigated, to determine if it is due to cancer. A small percentage of patients with blood stained discharge from nipple have cancer. Bleeding from other body openings, such as rectum or bladder, should be carefully investigated to rule out cancer. Unnatural vaginal bleeding, especially after the age of 50 can be a very suspicious sign of cancer.

Does blood in stool indicate cancer?

Stool streaked with bright blood or the occurrence of black or "tarry" stools should lead to prompt and thorough investigation. The assumption that rectal bleeding is merely due to hemorrhoids, or piles, is most dangerous, since such bleeding may be due to multiple causes, including cancer.

Does blood in the urine indicate cancer?

It may, but it may also be caused by conditions other than cancer. A careful examination is essential to rule out cancer.

Is it true that cancer generally develops among people in poor health?

There is no known relation between the status of one's health and the development of cancer. Poor genital hygiene and poor oral hygiene may be contributory factor in cancer causation.

How can we diagnose cancer of the stomach?

Upper G-I endoscopy is the best investigation for diagnosing stomach cancer. A flexible tube (Endoscope) is passed through mouth and introduced into food pipe and stomach for telescopic visualization. Biopsy can be taken if any lesion is found in stomach or food pipe.

How are cancers in the head and neck region diagnosed?

Cancers in the head and neck region can be diagnosed by simple clinical examination which includes visualization of oral cavity and voice box with the help of head light and mirror. Any growth, ulcer or white patch is biopsied to confirm the clinical diagnosis. This is then reported by an experienced histo-pathologist in the laboratory. In India more than 40% of male cancers arise in mouth and throat.

What techniques are used to detect cancer?

There is no substitute to good clinical examination. Ultrasound, X-Rays, CT Scan, MRI & Mammography are some of diagnostic imaging tools. Various blood tests (PSA, AFP) and endoscopic procedures are also available to clinch the diagnosis. Cytology (FNAC) or Biopsy of lesion is desirable before starting any treatment.

How To Treat It?

How should cancer be treated?

By surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a combination of all these in the earliest possible stage of the disease. All these methods are available in India at various Hospitals. RGCI & RC provides all diagnostic and treatment facilities under one roof. The emphasis on cancer treatment should be on multimodal management.

Are radiation treatments good for all kinds of cancer?

No. Treatment depends on type and location of the growth. Some cancers will not respond to radiation treatment but must be treated by surgery or with hormones and chemotherapy.

How does Radiation act?

Radiation destroys dividing cells including cancer cells. Normal cells are also damaged. But now sophisticated machines are available which spare normal tissues and destroy cancer tissue with precision.

What is Internal Radiation?

Wires or tubes containing radioactive material are inserted into the cancer growth or in the tissue surrounding it, and removed after treatment is concluded. Radio-active material in suitable containers may also be placed in contact with the growth as in cancer cervix. Now a days, endo-luminal RT is also available for cancer of tubular structures like bronchus.

How effective is surgery?

Surgery is most effective in the early stages when cancer has not yet spread. Major advances in plastic and reconstructive surgery, and anesthesiology have ensured a very high degree of success.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy implies treatment with anti-cancer drugs and injections. Today we have a large number of highly effective drugs for cancer control.

Can the spread of cancer be stopped or retarded temporarily?

At times only. Certain types of cancerous growths, which cannot be expected to be curable, may be controlled temporarily by CT/Hormones/RT. Sooner or later, however, these growths fail to respond to further treatment.

What should you do if you think you may have cancer?

Report at once for a thorough examination by the cancer specialist.

Is cancer curable?

More than 80% of cancers today are completely curable if treated early. At times, however, cures have been obtained after the cancers have been present for a long time. The type of cancer and stage of cancer have an important bearing on its curability.

Is it ever possible to state that a cancer has been completely cured? If so, how much time must pass before the "cure" is recognized?

After a cancer patient has been treated and has remained free of recurrence of disease for a period of five years, the chances for re-appearance of the tumour are small. Occasionally cancer recurs ten or twenty years later. So, a life long follow up is a must for cancer patients to detect recurrence of disease as well as to detect other cancers.

If you have been cured of cancer, can you develop another cancer?
In the same place?
In some other part of the body?

Yes. Regardless of a patient's past medical history including the successful treatment of a previous cancer, he/she should be examined at regular intervals. Because of the tendency for cancer to re-appear at the place of a previously existing growth or nearby, a patient should have a regular follow up as advised by the doctor. A new cancer may also appear at another part of the body.

Is there any known vaccine cure for cancer?

No. A vaccine is of value only against a disease due to a germ. Cancer is not caused by a germ; therefore, serums are of no value in its treatment.

Is there any known vaccine cure for cancer?

No. A vaccine is of value only against a disease due to a germ. Cancer is not caused by a germ, therefore serums are of no value in its treatment, but researches are ongoing to find tumour vaccines for different cancers.

Is it ever safe to rely on salves to "cure" cancer?

No. Paste or salve can not penetrate the tissues deep enough to destroy deep seated cancer cells.

What are side effects of Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy causes temporary side effects like nausea, vomiting, loss of hair and bone marrow suppression. Side effects of chemotherapy vary with drug schedule used.

Will hormones cure cancer?

There is evidence today to indicate that treatment with certain hormones may prolong life, and alleviate pain and suffering in certain breast and prostate cancers. Hormones are also useful as adjuvant after definitive treatment.

What is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a new development based on the theory that the human body can be taught to defend itself against diseases including cancer. Immunotherapy is being tried in cancers like melanoma, renal cell carcinoma etc.

What is the latest and most successful of the recently reported cancer treatments?

There is no single modality of treatment, which can achieve cure. Emphasis is on multimodal treatment e.g. combination of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone treatment. Now gene therapy & immunotherapy are upcoming modes of treatment but they are in experimental stage.

Is any real progress being made in cancer research? Along what lines?

A lot of progress has been made in cancer research. We have understood cancer behavior better. Diagnostic facilities have improved. Operative methods and radiation techniques have also improved. Newer chemotherapy drugs have been launched. Future is not far off when we will have gene therapy and vaccines for cancer treatment.

What are your chances of getting cured?

More than 80% of the patient treated adequately in the early stages can be cured. Your chances of recovery are excellent, if you report for treatment very early after the cancer has developed.

Can you lead a normal life after cancer?

Can you lead a normal life after cancer?

Cancer in Men

Are cancers in men and women different?

There are no fundamental differences in cancers in men and women. Most important thing is that common male cancers (lung and oral) are preventable because they are caused by tobacco. Female cancers (breast, cervix) can be detected early and cured.

What forms of cancer are more common among men than women?

Cancer of the mouth, throat, gullet, stomach, rectum, larynx, lung, skin and brain are all more common in men than in women. Gall bladder and thyroid cancers are more frequent in women.

Does smoking or tobacco and paan chewing cause cancer?

Smoking and tobacco chewing are known to cause cancer of the mouth, throat, lungs etc. Therefore, it is best to play safe. If you smoke or chew tobacco, make every effort to stop. Stop smoking and tobacco chewing and prevent cancer !

Can cancer result from sexual intercourse?

No. There is no known relationship between cancer and sexual activity on the part of the male or female. However women who have multiple sexual partners run a greater risk of getting cervix cancer.

Is cancer of the prostate common?
At what age does it generally occur?

Yes. Cancer of the prostate is one of the most common forms of cancer in older men in USA. Men should be on guard against this form of cancer especially as they approach 60. A thorough physical examination, including a rectal examination, blood test (PSA) and TRUS are the only ways to discover this hidden cancer early enough for cure.

Cancer in Women

Do more women than men die of cancer?

No. The misconception that cancer is primarily a woman's disease is due to the frequency of cancer of the breast and cancer of the reproductive organs in women, in comparison with the more varied occurrence of cancer in men.

Does cancer occur more frequently among married or unmarried women?

Reports from death certificates show that above the age of 40, the cancer death rate is higher among single women than among married women of the same ages. Single women have higher death rates from cancer of the breast and married women have more cancer of the cervix. Physicians believe that having the first child around the age of 20 is preventive against cancer of the breast. Multiple sexual partners increase the risk of cancer of the cervix.

Is there danger in watching a lump in the breast to see what happens?

Yes, a very grave danger. Time is the most important factor in the control of cancer and waiting to "see what happens" may permit a curable cancer to become incurable. This may allow it to spread to other parts of body and make the treatment more difficult

Are all breast lumps cancerous?

No. Only small percentage of lumps are cancerous. Careful physical examination and mammography can differentiate benign from malignant lump. Biopsy & FNAC of lump by a competent pathologist can clinch the diagnosis.

What precautions should be taken to avoid cancer of the breast?

Every woman above the age of 40 should have her breasts examined annually by a physician. Every women after the age of 35 years should be taught how to examine her own breasts (monthly after her periods). Screening mammography should be encouraged at the age of 40 years onward and then every 2 yearly. Soon we will have genetic markers to detect high risk group of women who are likely to develop breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

How should you examine your breasts?

Self examination of the breast should be done in the following ways after periods are over. Post menopausal women should examine their breasts every month.

  • Sit or stand in front of a mirror, with your arms relaxed at your sides, and examine your breasts carefully for any changes in size and shape. Look for any puckering or dimpling of the skin, and for any discharge or change in the nipples. Compare one breast with the other.
  • Raise both your arms over your head, and look for exactly the same changes. See if there is any change since you last examined your breasts.
  • You should feel for a lump or thickening in the breast tissues. Lie down on your bed, or on the floor. Put a pillow or a bath towel under your left shoulder, and place your left hand under your head. With the fingers of your right hand held together flat, press gently but firmly with small circular motions to feel the inner, upper quarter of your left breast, starting at your breast bone and going outward toward the nipple line. Also feel the areas around the nipple.
  • With the same gentle pressure next feel the lower, inner parts of your breast.
  • Now bring your left arm down to your side, and still using the flat part of your fingers, feel under your armpit.
  • Use the same gentle pressure to feel the upper, outer quarter of your breast from the nipple line to where your arm is resting.
  • And finally, feel the lower, outer section of your breast, proceeding from the outer part to the nipple.
  • Repeat the entire procedure, for the right breast.
What precautions should be taken to avoid cancer of the uterus (womb)?

Have all unnatural vaginal discharges investigated. Up to the age of thirty-five have an annual examination by Gynecologist. Bleeding after the age of 50 yrs. (after menopause) calls for a physician's examination at once. Avoid multiple sex partners. Cervix cancer can be prevented by screening.

Do uterine fibroids ever become cancerous?

Fibroid tumours only very rarely undergo malignant change.

Cancer in Children

Can cancer develop in children? At what age?

No age is free from cancer. Certain forms of cancer, especially of the eyes and blood are found in young children.

If a parent dies of cancer are the children more likely to have the disease?

The answer is no. In many families where a parent had cancer, the disease does not appear in the children. Again, a person whose family has no record of cancer may develop it. A tendency to develop breast cancer however runs in families. Even colon cancers are known to be familial.

Does cancer develop more quickly in children than in older people?

The rate of growth at any age depends upon the type of cancer, though cancer does grow faster at younger ages.

If detected in time, can cancer in a child be cured more quickly than in an adult?

The cure of cancer has little relationship with age. It depends upon the extent of growth at the time it is detected, the adequacy of the treatment given, as well as the type of cancer detected.

Cancer and You

How can cancer deaths be reduced?

Cancer deaths can be reduced by following means:

  • Cancer is preventable by living a simple life like no tobacco chewing or smoking, vegetarian high roughage low fat diet, no alcohol and use of fresh fruits & fresh vegetables. Half of the cancers can be prevented by changing our own life styles.
  • Early detection by screening before symptoms appear.
  • Early detection in symptomatic patients. Treat them early with multimodal treatment.
  • Provide good care under one roof with all ultramodern gadgetry. Even if it is advanced disease, try to improve quality of life. "Add life to years in advanced cases".
Does cancer usually cost more to cure, than other major diseases?

It often does. It depends upon the type of cancer you have and how much must be done to treat it. Many hospitals provide free treatment to those who cannot afford to pay.

Why are quacks dangerous?

For the following reasons, among others :

  • Few quacks are medically trained; therefore, they have no fundamental knowledge about cancer.
  • They cause the patient to lose valuable time that should be used to obtain correct treatment.
  • The pastes and "medicines" used by quacks have no value in curing cancer.
  • The quack takes the patient's money under false pretenses, thus depriving him of the means for obtaining competent treatment in time to enable him/her to be cured.
  • How can I tell a quack from a reputable physician?
  • If a person advertise a cure, guarantees a cure, or employs a method of diagnosis or treatment not generally accepted or endorsed by the medical profession, may be classed as a quack. No reputed ethical physician will do any of these things.
  • What is Home Care Service of RGCI & RC?
  • Home Care Services are provided to those patients, who are terminally ill and in whom all treatment modalities have been exhausted. These facilities are provided free of cost. Doctor, psychologist, nursing staff and technician visit the home of patient and provide advice regarding nursing care, medicines etc. They also provide medicines free of charge to patients.