In India, most of us have the tendency to ignore small symptoms or health irritants, not consulting an expert or going for a check and just discarding and ignoring them. For example, reduction in urination frequency and stream, and urinary retention are some of the early signs of prostate cancer, but most men ignore them. Likewise, every cancer has some early symptoms which we ignore due to lack of awareness, taboos associated with them or a fear to get diagnosed with a bigger problem or disease. Prostate cancer and lung cancer are becoming more common in Indian men while breast & cervical cancers are becoming more common in Indian women and the mortality rates for these are much higher in India when compared to global statistics as most are detected in advanced stages when treatment becomes difficult.
Early symptoms are also often mistaken as minor health issues that we choose to treat with over-the-counter medications. Self-medication only aggravates the problems and seldom helps in curing them. Ignoring the early signs only delays diagnosis and treatment. Most of us remain cold towards them until it reaches to a less amenable situation.
Some facts that cannot be ignored and paint a grim picture:
- India is ranks 3rd in the world for cancer cases after China and the US.
- India estimated to have over 0.7 million cancer cases in women.
- Every year more than a million new cancer cases are being reported.
- Approximately half of the deaths happen due to ignorance towards this disease.
- Every eight minutes, a woman dies due to cervical cancer in India.
- According to the National Institute of Cancer Prevention Research (NICPR), one woman among two newly diagnosed women with breast cancer dies in this country.
We need to understand that cancer can happen to anyone and only early detection can increase the chances of survival. Our ignorance only buys cancerous cells and tumours all the time they need to spread and drastically cut down the chances of a successful treatment.
Some questions around cancer screenings:
Am I at a higher risk of developing cancer?
The risk factors for cancer vary for every type of cancer. However, there are some common factors which may put you at higher risk.
- Tobacco & alcohol abuse: Tobacco or alcohol consumption put you at a higher risk of developing cancer. It is always best to quit smoking or tobacco use and limit alcohol consumption.
- Age: Age is also a great factor for developing different types of cancers. The risk increases with the age and a person in their forties or older, should consider taking annual cancer screening tests.
- Weight: Obesity increases the risk of developing certain types of cancers. Losing even 10% of the body weight can reduce your risk of developing cancer.
- Family history of cancer: It has been said many times that cancer can be passed through genes. If you have a family history of cancer it doesn’t mean you will surely develop cancer one day but yes you are at a higher risk.
Which cancer screenings test should I take?
One can go for new revolutionary universal cancer detection tests like PanTum Detect test which detects over 50 types of solid state tumours. People prone to certain types of cancers can go for specific tests, for eg. A middle-aged woman with a history of breast cancer in the family should go for a mammogram.
How often do I need to take the cancer screening test?
A Universal cancer detection test like PanTum Detect is an annual cancer screening test, people with certain risk factors should take it every year as a positive result after a negative one only indicates the presence of a tumour which is in its initial stage, this early detection of a tumour gives a patient maximum chances of successful treatment.
No one in my family has cancer, then why do I need to go for cancer screening?
Cancer can happen to anyone regardless of family history. Anyone can develop cancer in their lifetime and the best way to stay protected is regular health screenings for early detection.
Do cancer screenings hurt?
Some cancer screening tests make use of radiation. However, a universal test like PanTum Detect is a simple blood test which is fast, convenient and affordable.
What happens when cancer is detected?
It does sound scary, but an early detection of cancer only maximises the chances of successful treatment. When a universal cancer detection like PanTum indicates a positive result, one may have to go for other specific cancer screening tests for accurate diagnosis before starting treatment.