Cancer is the most feared disease on the planet. The word can strike terror in a person diagnosed with it. The reality is that, medical science has made great strides in the treatment of various types of cancers and while it is undoubtedly a very serious and possibly life-threatening condition, it is no longer a death sentence to a patient.
There is no part of the world that is immune to cancer. While China and the U.S.A. are the leading countries for cases of cancer, India ranks at number 3. Approximately 1 million new cases of cancer are reported in this country every year. Of this number, about 70% of the patients are women. Overall, approximately half a million deaths occur from cancer every year in India. There are a vast number of possible causes for the various types of cancer.
The most common forms of cancer found in India are breast cancer, cervical cancer and oral cancer.
This is the most common form of cancer in India. While it is typically found among women of age 40 and above, it can strike any female, at any age and at any time. The symptoms of the condition vary, but the most common are, change in the size and/or shape of the breast, the development of a lump that is painless, retraction of the nipple or bloody discharge from the nipple. The main diagnostic tool for breast cancer is a mammogram which involves an x-ray image of the breast that shows and defines normal and abnormal tissue. If abnormal tissue is present, further screening and testing for cancer is advised. Modern medicine calls for mammography screening to be done on a regular basis once a woman has crossed the age of 40. All girls/women should definitely do self breast examination regularly after the age of 20.
This is the second most common type of cancer in India and like other forms of the disease, is caused by the growth of abnormal cells in the cervix which is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. In many cases a complete cure is possible, but this possibility is present only if the disease is diagnosed at an early stage. The main symptom is any form of abnormal vaginal bleeding such as bleeding after sex, after menopause or after the menstrual cycle is over. Pain in the lower abdomen and pain during sex are other common symptoms.Diagnosis is done by taking a PAP smear which is a small sample of cells from the cervix to see if there are any abnormal cell growths. A tissue biopsy is also usually done. Depending on the results, other tests may be advised to reach a firm diagnosis.
This is the third most common form of cancer in India. The country accounts for over 85% of the cases reported worldwide. Tobacco and alcohol consumption are the main causes of the development of this form of cancer. The common symptoms are chronic ulcers in the mouth, difficulty in chewing and swallowing, loosening and loss of teeth, pain in the throat and changes in the patient’s voice. If the condition is detected at an early stage, the chances of recovery are higher than when the diagnosis is made at a later stage.
Cancer is serious but no longer an automatic death sentence. If a positive diagnosis is made, regular cancer checkups and treatment should be done in a hospital with a specialist medical staff and state–of–the-art treatment facilities.