Cancer has been a disease of discussion for many families these days, but swept under the rug, as people see it as a stigma and shy away from talking about it, considering it the end of the road, since the diagnosis itself has implications not only personal but also social and financial. The most cost-effective way to reduce the burden of cancer is to spread awareness about cancer prevention and according to IARC Globocan 2020, globally, approximately 19.3 million cases of cancer are diagnosed annually with approximately 10 million deaths each year. , among them 30-50% are preventable (Courtesy: WHO).
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Cancer Institute’s Dr. Amit Verma (molecular oncologist and cancer geneticist), shared: “Cancer is a disease of aging and is influenced by various genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. Few of the risk factors are modifiable, meaning if you avoid them, you can reduce your chances of cancer. This process is called primary prevention. Notorious risk factors include tobacco and alcohol use, which increase the chances of various types of cancer, including head and neck, lung, liver, bladder and many more. Quitting smoking, avoiding secondhand smoke, stopping chewing tobacco, and drinking alcohol in moderation can substantially reduce the chances.”
He highlighted: “Lifestyles that affect body weight (high Body Mass Index) and faulty eating habits can predispose people to cancer of the breast, colon, uterus, etc. USA) and dietary modifications, such as increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and limiting the intake of non-vegetarian foods, especially red meat and foods high in salt, have a protective effect. Avoid excessive sun exposure (UV rays) for the prevention of skin cancer. Occupational hazards, including exposure to asbestos, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, aromatic amines, silica dust, radon, sulfur mist, and radioactive materials, are known to be carcinogenic and increase the risk of lung and bladder cancer. The use of protective equipment is recommended when necessary. Infections including HPV, HBV, H. Pylori are known to cause cancer of the cervix, liver, and stomach, respectively. Vaccines against HPV, HBV and the use of antibiotics against H Pylori can prevent these infections. Visit your doctor to discuss these medical interventions.”
He revealed that certain people carry genes that predispose to high-risk cancer, saying: “These genes are passable to the next generation (up to 50% inheritable) and are responsible for hereditary cancers (up to 10% of all cancers, courtesy: NCI, USA). These genetic factors are considered non-modifiable, but identify people at risk through counseling followed by genetic testing (blood/saliva), undergoing cancer screening procedures (active surveillance), offering cancer-reducing drugs (chemoprevention), and prevention. surgeries (prophylactic surgeries) is considered as a secondary prevention approach. Unnecessary cancer anxiety should be avoided as the chances of developing cancer vary greatly from person to person. You can lead a normal and healthy life by making wise decisions that will positively impact your health.”
According to Dr. Aruna Kalra, Senior Obstetrician and Gynecologist at CK Birla Hospital in Gurugram, cancer prevention is the practice of reducing the chance of developing cancer. She suggested: “This may involve living a healthy lifestyle, avoiding contact with known carcinogens, and receiving treatments or vaccinations to prevent cancer. Changes in behavior, such as eating more fruits and vegetables and avoiding red meat, as well as daily use of sunscreen, can have an impact.” She revealed the best strategies to reduce the risk of developing cancer or to detect it early:
1. Periodic screen tests
Regular screening exams can find colorectal (colon), breast, and cervical cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be effective. For some high-risk patients, lung cancer screening is recommended.
Vaccines (shots) help reduce the risk of cancer. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent many malignant diseases, including most cervical cancers. The hepatitis B vaccine can reduce the chance of developing liver cancer.
3. Healthy decisions
Making healthy choices like maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, consuming alcohol in moderation, and taking care of your skin can reduce your risk of developing cancer.
4. Practice safe sex
The human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause at least four other cancers in addition to cervical cancer, including oropharyngeal cancer, which affects the tonsils and base of the tongue. Using a condom correctly every time you have sex will help protect you against HPV because it can be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex, but it won’t completely prevent it. People can get the hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses through sexual intercourse or blood. Long-term liver infections caused by hepatitis B or C viruses can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. To lower your risk of hepatitis B or C and liver cancer, stay away from dangerous activities and engage in safer sex practices.
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