Need for early diagnosis of cancer, suggest doctors

Lack of early diagnosis of cancer remains the major concern among doctors in treating cancer patients here. On World Cancer Day, doctors said screening for cancer will help bring down the burden of cancer.

“With early diagnosis among patients, minimal treatment is required and the best cure can be achieved for such patients. Screening for breast cancer, cervical cancer, oral cancer, colonic cancer, early detection will yield better results,” said Dr Sunil Kumar, assistant professor, surgical oncology at Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, AIIMS.

“The trends show that cervical cancer has been overtaken by breast cancer. Lung cancer and oral cavity cancer also continue to rise according to the data pool in the country,” said Dr Kumar.

The other threat in treating cancer is the lack of awareness among patients and doctors in detecting cancer early, said medical experts.

“Despite the best efforts, the rural population still does not have adequate access to cancer treatment and screening procedures. The awareness level needs to be raised,” said Dr Kumar.

Tobacco use accounts for 22 per cent of cancer deaths globally and is a leading cause of the disease in the South-East Asia Region, according to the World Health Organisation.

“We must create awareness about harmful effects of areca nut (supari) chewing.  Areca nut chewing causes submucosal fibrosis where mouth shrinks and carries a high risk of oral cancer. People consider areca nut chewing as a healthy habit and use it as mouth freshener.

The debate on pictorial warnings is also misplaced. We should have a 100 per cent anti-smoking display and messages on all cigarette packs,” said Dr A K Dewan, Medical Director, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre.

Reducing the use of tobacco should be focussed on in the health sector.
“We need to improve access to cancer treatment and services across the care continuum. 

We also need to work towards developing and enforcing strong policies to reduce tobacco and alcohol use and reducing exposure to environmental carcinogens,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO, South-East Asia Region.

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