Prevention and early detection of cancer

I was looking across, “meaning” of cancer in the dictionary and came across – diseased growth in the body, another meaning was – spreading evil in the society. 

I was looking across, “meaning” of cancer in the dictionary and came across – diseased growth in the body, another meaning was – spreading evil in the society. 

True to its meaning, cancer once started spreads like evil in the body dealing devastation in any part it affects. Untreated, it produces slow painful death.

Measures for cure like surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy produce painful undesirable results.

In contrast when detected and treated at the early stages, the individual can lead a long good quality life.

Is it not better to prevent cancer? In developing countries where resources are less for diagnosis and treatment, prevention should be emphasized.

There are many risk factors which are within human control to avoid, for avoiding the risk of cancer.

A healthy well balanced diet is useful not only for a healthy life but prevention of cancer. Diet should include green vegetables and fresh fruits along with cereals and grains. 

Excess of   fats and oils should be avoided.  A low fiber diet predisposes one to cancer of stomach and colon.

One needs to   maintain normal body weight and prevent obesity. Freshly cooked food is always better than the fast foods which tend to become popular with affluence and busy life styles of people.

“Ready to eat, fast foods” contain a lot of chemicals and preservatives which are carcinogenic.

Regular exercise at least for 30 minutes, 3 times a week is must for maintaining a good health and prevention of cancer.

Use of alcohol and tobacco are 2 big risk factors for cancers of the lungs, liver, colon, head, neck, e.t.c.  If one is addicted to them, he or she should make every possible effort for   quitting them.

Disciplined sexual activity is good for all people, more so for women.

Having sex at a much early age along with multiple partners predisposes a young woman to develop cancer of the cervix (lower portion of uterus).

Multiple pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases add to the risk.

In contrast not having children or not    breast feeding them, are risk factors for breast cancer.

Excess exposure to sunlight makes one more susceptible to skin cancers. This should be avoided by using sunglasses and caps while moving out in the sun. Keeping the body well hydrated by drinking much water is also useful.

Excess exposure to radiation is yet another risk factor for cancer of part affected. X-rays should be undertaken judiciously.

Certain occupations predispose one to cancer.  Working with asbestos, lead, radon and radiation are such occupations.

The responsibility lies with employers to provide the workers with suitable preventive measures.

Those suffering from AIDS are also at a high risk of developing various kinds of cancers like lymphomas and leukemia, cancer of the cervix, e.t.c.

One should   be vigilant enough to pick up the early tell tale signs of cancer in the body. After all, disease like calamity can come any time.

Self examination of breasts is a very useful and economical technique to detect breast cancer at its earliest. Any lump, persistent pruritic patch or puckering of nipple or bloody discharge from nipple should be immediately reported to the doctor and tested for cancer.

Middle aged and elderly women should be cautious about any vaginal discharge. If bleeding occurs 6 months after menopause, it should not be neglected. These measures are useful for early detection of genital cancers.

It is recommended that every woman after 40 years of age should regularly undergo, “Pap’s smear” (test to detect cervical cancer) once every year.

Persistent or recurrent white patches or ulceration in the mouth should be screened for oral cancer. Hard painless lump or nodule, appearing anywhere in the body could be cancerous and should be tested for the same.

There is no need to live in fear of cancers but prudence demands to avoid it by a healthy life style and be on guard for it.

Specialist internal medicine

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