by S Sharma | 05 FEB 2018
Dr. Vinay Deshmane, Medical Director and joint honorary secretary at Indian Cancer Society talks about how people together as a community or as individuals, can play a role to reduce the global burden of cancer. The campaign We Can, I Can is targetted towards working together against cancer. “Everyone has the capacity to undertake actions to reduce the impact that cancer has on individuals, families and communities and the World Cancer Day provides an opportunity to reflect on what you can do,” explained Dr Vinay Deshmane.
Current world figures indicate over 14 million new cancer cases and 8.8 million cancer deaths every year. In India, there are over 7 lakh new cancer cases and over 5 lakh deaths each year due to cancer. Furthermore, there are an estimated 2.5 million people living with the disease. In the coming years, due to increasing longevity and changing lifestyle, we are likely to see a steep increase in the number of cancer cases. By the year 2025, cancer incidence is expected to double to 14 lakh new cases and over 10 lakh deaths each year.
A majority of the deaths will unfortunately occur in the age group 30 to 70 years, which constitues the most productive years of an individual. Furthermore, over 50% of patients will present in a relatively advanced stage of the disease making current treatments ineffective for meanigful improvements in survival.
Cancer can be prevented
The exact cause of cancer remains unknown. Advances in genetics have improved our understanding as to why some people are affected by cancer at a young age, however only 5 to 10 % of cancers are due to an inherited genetic disposition. The vast majority are attributed to environmental factors which can be modified.
Even though the occurrence of cancer has been labelled as “bad luck” the truth is that as many as 60% of cancers can be linked to lifestyle and are largely preventable. Tobacco,obesity and infection are responsible for the majority of the cancers. 40% of all cancers are related to Tobacco and related products and may be prevented. Another 20% can be attributed to obesity and hygiene, factors which can be easily modified.
Common cancers and life style changes which could result in their prevention
The commonest cancers in the Indian population are those involving the mouth and the oral cavity, lung, stomach and large intestine in both sexes. In men, head and neck cancers and lung cancers are most common (largely reflecting the effect of smoked and smokeless tobacco), and in women cancer of the breast (related to a modern lifestyle and obesity) and cervix (related to hygiene and infection) are the commonest sites involved.
Thus, simple lifestyle changes have the potential to reduce cancer risk. Avoiding smoking and other tobacco related products such as pan, supari and gutka, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol intake, being more physically active, reducing both indoor and outdoor air polution are lifestyle modifications which may reduce the risk of developing cancer. Breast feeding and avoiding obesity are important factors to decrease the risk of developing breast cancer while vaccination against Hepatitis B (liver cancer) and the HPV virus (cervix cancer) are other methods to decrease the risk of developing cancers.
Indian Cancer Society activities to increase awareness.
In India, The Indian Cancer Society is involved in various activities to increase awarenss and to educate people on how to fight cancer by improving prevention. and early detection. Several awareness sessions, webchats and walkathons have been organised. It has also planned various screening camps on this weekend.
A unique art therapy workshop has been arranged at the ICS head office in Mumbai on February 3 and a Cricket match involving young cancer survivors and oncologists on February 4 at Shivaji Park, Mumbai.
Actions to reduce cancer risk that communities and individuals may take:
Avoid smoking and any form of tobacco
Be physically active
Have a healthy diet and limit alcohol intake
Reduce indoor and outdoor pollution
Limit exposure to the sun
Vaccinate against Hepatitis B and HPV
Seek a doctor’s opinion early whenever required
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