Cancer, the very name sends down a shiver down the spine. The main reasons being ignorance, portrayal of Cancer patients in movies TV serials; and of course, the myths associated with the disease.Mentioned below are some aspects pertinent in knowing and fighting Cancer:
Tumours are uncontrolled growth of cells (building blocks of the body). Tumours are of two kinds- ‘benign’ and ‘malignant’. Benign tumours don't spread and generally do not harm the patient unless located in a vital organ, like brain etc. Malignant tumours are ‘cancers’. They grow and eat in to surrounding areas and can also spread to far away sites like lungs, bones, liver, brain etc. Almost all cancers are dangerous and life threatening.
Cancers occurs in both sexes and all ages. Highest risk is present in those over 40 yrs of age and users of tobacco.
Symptoms depend on the location of the cancers. For example, head and neck cancers (oral, throat, voice-box cancer) present with one or more of the following- ulcer in mouth, constant pain in throat, change in voice, difficulty in swallowing, lump in neck.
Detection is normally done on a clinical examination. Imaging studies like CT scan, MRI, mammography, X-rays aid in detection. One of the newer imaging tests for cancer is the PET scan.
Diagnosis is confirmed by examination of tissue (a piece of the tumour). This tissue is generally taken using either a needle or cutting a small piece of tumour out (biopsy).
Treatment uses one or more of these modalities- surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. Different tumours respond to different treatments. Most tumours are treated based on established protocols accepted internationally with some variation on case to case basis.
Dr. Deepak Sarin, Surgical Oncologist, Dr. Atul Prasad, Consultant Neurologist (Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon).
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