We have all grown up dreading the word ‘cancer,’ for the way it shows itself up in our lives like a sudden ghost. And since most cases of cancer in India are detected at a rather mature stage, the bandwidth of successful recovery is quite narrow. This has earned cancer a bad reputation of being the messenger of certain death. However, if diagnosed at an early stage, cancer has been found to be completely curable.
A lot of people have survived this disease and are leading perfectly normal lives post cancer treatment. Their stories of survival provide the patients of cancer the much needed reassurance about the possibility of recovery. However, a lot of myths and misconceptions about this malady are prevalent in the society, painting a rather terrifying picture of it.
The need of the hour is to bust these myths by carrying out cancer awareness programmes, so that people develop a better understanding of this disease.
What is Cancer, exactly?
The World Health Organisation defines cancer as a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. It can affect almost any part of the body and is a leading cause of death worldwide. Speaking specifically for India, it is a major cause of morbidity, deaths, and economic overburdening.
In Cancer, a normal cell in our body, upon interaction with carcinogenic( cancer producing) agents, may convert into a cancer cell. These carcinogenic agents can either be physical, chemical, or biological in nature. This newly formed cancer cell now divides and multiplies, making invasions into the surrounding areas in our body.
Causes of Cancer in India
One of the main propagators of cancer in our country is the excessive use of tobacco. People with the habit of chewing tobacco are susceptible to mouth cancers, while smokers are more susceptible to lung cancer.
With the constant increase in air and water pollution levels too, across the nation, the number of cases of cancer are on a rise.
According to an estimate by Indian Council Medical Research, we will have 17.3 lakh new cases of cancer in the country by 2020. (Source: ICMR) The report also tells us that cancer will be the reason behind 8.8 lakh deaths by that time. These figures are indeed a loud alarm screeching for our attention.
If we speak gender-wise, the most common sites of cancer in women’s bodies in India are the cervix uteri, breast, and the neck region. In men, colorectal, stomach and lung cancer are the most common. (Source: Cancer sites in human bodies)
Now that we have a little understanding of the Big C’s modus operandi, let us try and understand how to keep it away:
Cancer Prevention – Keeping the Big C Away
The age old adage that prevention is better than cure holds true for cancer too, just like for any other bodily condition. The World Health Organisation(WHO) suggests that from 30 to 50 percent of all cancer cases are preventable. This is indeed a good news, for a nation like ours. If we actively strives toward cancer prevention, the number of casualties will come down as well, in direct proportion.
Here are a few ways through which we can ace cancer prevention:
- Avoiding Tobacco – Interestingly, tobacco is the greatest avoidable carcinogenic substance, and claims 6 million lives each year. It leads to a variety of cancers, including cancers of oral cavity, lungs, and stomach.
- Being Physically Active and keeping a check on our diet – Obesity can often lead to stomach, kidney, breast, and colorectal cancer. If only we can keep a strict check on our weight, we shall be able to avoid the possibility of cancer to a great extent. Also, nutrition plays a major role in cancer prevention as well. A lot of vegetables and fruits contain cancer-fighting elements, and can keep us safe from this life-threatening disease.
- Keeping a tab on environmental pollution – Carcinogenic elements floating about in our environment are directly responsible for cancer inducement. The carcinogenic pollutants are present in the air we breathe in, the water we drink, and in the soil we grow our food in. In one manner or the other, they are slowly entering our bodies, and are posing a deadly threat to us. We need to start taking a few steps towards avoiding chemicals which can cause cancer in the long term.
As we discussed above, cancer if diagnosed and treated at an early stage, can leave the human body without leaving a trace. But in most cases, we get to know of its arrival when it is beyond the scope of treatment. Also, cancer treatment procedures such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy are very expensive. Their high costs leave no way for the poverty-stricken cancer patients to even hope for a complete cure.
However, there are a few charity institutions in our country that are willing to help the people in dire need of treatment. They take care of the medical expenses of these cancer patients and also provide them with care and shelter. The fact that these charity organisations receive a lot of support from our entire nation, tell us how kind we as a people. By giving someone else the hope to live, we live a little bit more.
If the graveness of the situation moves you, donate on the button below. You have no idea how helpful your contribution will be for someone in pain.