A WHO study confirms that one in 10 Indians may develop cancer in a lifetime. At a time when advanced treatments are available and the disease is entirely curable, this data is alarming, say oncologists.
But there are some cancers and associated risk factors in women that can be recognised by doing some self-examinations. Dr J B Sharma, HOD and senior consultant, Medical Oncology, Action Cancer Hospital said, “Discussion in regard to women-centric cancers should be more prioritised. According to a study, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in India, also cervical cancer contributes around 6-29 per cent of cancers in women in India. But at the same time, another study says that over 50,000 cervical cancer cases can be prevented in India by 2050. The regressive approach in our society also forces some of the women to ignore their pain and health concerns and lack of awareness leads them to such painful stages which can be very much prevented,” he said.
What to do?
Women should never ignore any mild or major lump in breasts or in armpits, nipple discharge apart from breast milk etc. They should be regular with BSE (Breast Self Examination). Especially, women after 40 years of age should go for timely breast screening. Also, irregular vaginal bleeding, abnormal discharge are not to be ignored or taken lightly as these can be early warning signs of cervical cancer. Pap Smear tests, and HPV testing can majorly help in preventing cervical cancer which can be done after 35 years of age yearly. But most importantly, other family members should be sensitive towards female members of their family and help them with their tests and other health concerns.
There are some age-specific screening tests that can potentially save one at the pre-cancerous stage before developing cancer. Dr Indu Bansal, director and senior Consultant- Radiation Oncology, Narayana Hospital Gurugram shared:
20 years of age
*skin and testicular exam
*Pap smear after being sexually active
*Monthly self-breast exam
*In case of irregular bleeding in females, USG pelvis to rule out ovarian tumour
20-40 years of age
*Monthly self-breast exam to continue
*Monthly testicular exam for males and skin examination for any skin cancer for both sexes
* Liquid-based Pap Smear yearly for three years after 25 years of age. If normal, then once every three years till 65 years of age
*USG (ultrasound) breast before age 40 or at least five years prior to a family member being affected, bilateral mammogram from 45-55 years every year as per advice of doctor
*MRI breast if BRCA mutation-positive
*Baseline mammogram at age 40
*Baseline PSA at 45 years of age if a family history of prostate cancer
*BP/Pulse/Lipid profile occasionally if family history or smoker/alcoholic/stressful job profile
50 years and above
*Annual mammogram till 55 years of age and then every two years
*Clinical breast examination by doctor yearly
*X-ray chest/ USG whole abdomen yearly
*CBC/ LFT/ KFT/ Lipid Profile at least yearly
*PSA yearly after 50 yrs of age for males
*Stool for occult blood yearly for both sexes
*Urine R/E yearly
*Colonoscopy 5 yearly if family history
*Cardiac check-up yearly
Low dose CT scan chest in case of high risk of lung cancer as smokers in last 15 years or age 55-74 years
Dr Deni Gupta, senior consultant, Medical Oncology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital mentioned warning signs that need immediate attention.
*In case of lump in any part of the body, one should go for check-up. Many times such lumps are the results of some lesser harmful diseases but it ensures timely medical attention.
*Persistent coughing with blood and pain in chest may warn about lung cancer. Also, if one is a chain smoker and suffering such a condition, he/she should report to the specialist as early as possible.
*Abnormal headaches and repeated episodes of vomiting are the symptoms most people experience in case of brain tumour. Such conditions can occur under many neurological problems as well but still required tests can give a clear picture.
*Passing black stools and abnormal stomach-ache may be the symptom of rectal cancer.