Dr. Sajal Goel, Consultant Radiation Oncologist, Patel Hospital, Jalandhar, Punjab
Cancer afflicts people around the globe. As per WHO, 1 in 6 deaths can be attributed to it. Cancer is “a group of diseases which occur when a particular cell or group of cells begin to multiply and grow without control, crowding or displacing or destroying the normal cells.”Cancer’s etiological risk factors are non-modifiable such as age, genetic alterations, or modifiable such as environment, lifestyle, occupation, biological agents, viruses, etc.
Following are the warning signs of cancer: change in bowel or bladder habits, a sore that does not heal, unusual bleeding or discharge, thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere, indigestion or difficulty in swallowing, obvious change in a wart or mole, nagging cough or hoarseness, unexplained anemia (low blood count), lumps in the testicles and a change in urination.
Of more than 200 types of cancers, those common in males are head and neck, lung or prostate while cervix, breast, and endometrial in females. All these can be diagnosed by detailed clinical history, examination, or routinely available screening radiological and pathological investigations including Serum Prostate-Specific Antigen, Pap smear, Mammogram, and Chest X-Ray. As the diagnostic facilities are improving, the burden of cancer will increase in the world.
The developing countries still have a lack of access to infrastructure for medical and public health. “Cancer being a contagious or infectious disease and untreatable” is still a social stigma that we have to conquer. The role of people, community, family, adolescents, doctors, mass media, politicians, national and international funding organizations like NGO and WHO is of utmost importance if we wish to keep our distance from this undesired king of all maladies. On this World Cancer Day on 4th Feb 2021, let us take a pledge to stand together and protect our future generations from cancer.