Can cancer affect you?
Cancer occurs as a result of mutations, or abnormal changes, in the genes responsible for regulating the...
Cancer occurs as a result of mutations, or abnormal changes, in the genes responsible for regulating the growth of cells and keeping them healthy. A tumour can be benign (not dangerous to health) or malignant (has the potential to be dangerous). Benign tumours are not considered cancerous: their cells are close to normal in appearance, they grow slowly, and they do not invade nearby tissues or spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors are cancerous. Left unchecked, malignant cells eventually can spread beyond the original tumour to other parts of the body.
Over time, cancer cells can invade nearby healthy tissue and make their way into the lymph nodes, small organs that filter out foreign substances in the body. If cancer cells get into the lymph nodes, they then have a pathway into other parts of the body. The cancer's stage refers to how far the cancer cells have spread beyond the original tumour.
There are two major components of early detection of cancer: education to promote early diagnosis and screening.A Recognising possible warning signs of cancer and prompt action leads to early diagnosis. Increased awareness of possible warning signs of cancer, among physicians, nurses and other health care providers as well as among general public, can have great impact on the diseases.
High risk groups for cancer affliction
- Tobacco users (smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco )
- Chronic Alcoholics, Chronic liver disease ( especially cirrhosis )
- People with lack of exercise, high fat diet-obesity.
- Persons occupationally exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer.
- Populations consuming spicy food and low fibre diet.
- Depending on the age and the risk factors, we need to screen for certain types of cancers. We recommend that people who are at high risk or have a family history of cancer be screened regularly.
Screening tests should women have Breast Cancer: The term "breast cancer" refers to a malignant tumour. Usually breast cancer either begins in the cells of the lobules, which are the milk-producing glands, or the ducts, the passages that drain milk from the lobules to the nipple. Any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer: swelling of all or part of the breast; skin irritation or dimpling; breast pain; nipple pain or the nipple turning inward; redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin; a nipple discharge other than breast milk; or a lump in the underarm area.
- All women should begin cervical cancer screening about three years after they begin having vaginal intercourse but no later than when they are 21 years old. Screening should be done every year with the regular Pap test or every 2 years using the newer liquid � based Pap test.
- Beginning at age 30, women who have had 3 normal Pap test results in a row may get screened every two years. Another reasonable option for women over 30 is to get screened every three years (but not more frequently) with either the conventional or liquid based Pap test, plus the HPV DNA test. Women who have certain risk factors such as HIV infection, or a weakened immune system due to organ transplant, chemotherapy, or chronic steroid use should continue to be screened annually.
- Women of 70 years of age or older who have had three or more Pap test in a row and women who have had total hysterectomy ( removal of the uterus and cervix) may also choose to stop having cervical cancer screening, unless the surgery was done as a treatment for cervical cancer or pre-cancer. Women who have had hysterectomy without removal of the cervix should continue to follow the above guidelines.
Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer Endometrial cancer is rare in India. For women with or at high risk for hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), annual screening should be offered for endometrial cancer with endometrial biopsy beginning at age 35.
Prostate Cancer: Prostate cancer is not uncommon in India. It is only that we are not used to looking for it in our population. Factors such as family history, age and race play a part in the risk of prostate cancer. Starting at age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer.
Colon and rectal cancer: Most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp. The following warning signs should not be ignored:
- Bleeding from rectum.
- Blood in the stool or in the toilet after a bowel movement.
- A prolonged change in the consistency of the stool.
- Cramping or pain in the lower abdomen.
- A feeling of discomfort
- Unintended weight loss.
High risk groups for colo-rectal cancers: l A personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps l A personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease
Oral Cavity Cancer Early detection (as distinct from organised screening) of oral cancer using visual inspection of the mouth is being considered in our country where the incidence is high. The oral cavity is easily accessible for routine examination, and can readily detect lesions that are the precursors of oral cancers.
Skin Cancer The best way to find skin cancer early is to keep an eye on the skin, especially moles. Signs of skin cancer: A A For asymmetry: A mole that, when divided in half, does not look the same on both sides. B A for border: A mole with edges that is blurry or jagged. C A for color: changes in the color of a mole, including darkening or loss of color. D A for diameter: A mole larger than A� inch in diameter. E A for elevation: A mole that is raised above the skin
Don't ignore early signs of cancer such as lumps, sores that fail to heal, abnormal bleeding, persistent indigestion, and chronic hoarseness. Early diagnosis is particularly relevant for cancers of the breast, cervix, oral cavity, colon and rectumA
Dr Ch Mohana Vamsy, Cheif Surgical Oncologist, Omega Hospitals