Is Prevention From Cancer Possible?
The answer is a very favourable ‘Yes’. One can surely be cancer safe and smart. It is all due to the advent of modern science, and especially the invention of the microscope. When seen under the lens, scientists observed that cancer does not happen overnight but follows a lot of physical, biochemical and genetic insults over a long period of five to ten years. Thus, after ten years or so of negligence, the so called pre-cancer changes to cancer. In these formative years, there are various scientific ways that we can use to protect ourselves from cancer, detect it at the root level and get rid of it at the pre-cancer level itself.
Another encouraging aspect scientists found out about cancer prevention was that majority of cancer types found around the world are amenable to prevention. However we cannot rely only on modern tools and tests for all types; in fact till today the best prevention for lung cancer is stopping usage of tobacco in any form. There are about 100 to 300 humans that have cancer for every one lac of humans worldwide. Thus a total of about 111 lac or eleven million new people will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone, and there are about 30 lac or three million old cancer survivors. India alone will contribute 11 lac new cases of cancer.
How to prevent cancer?
Luckily, 60 per cent (not all) of these cancers are preventable. Modern science has produced effective procedures beside physical examination by a doctor and/or self as well as microscopic examination for prevention of the following important human cancers and pre-cancer sites:
- Fluorescent light examination, avoiding tobacco especially in combination with alcohol, avoiding sharp teeth, avoiding HPV virus infections, proper oral hygiene, regular dental checks every six months, taking vitamin A, for head and neck cancer prevention.
- Mammography, blood tests for specific cancer genes, hormonal therapy tablets, weight control, MRI breast, regular breast health checks at least once every two years, for breast cancer prevention.
- Colonoscopy, stool test, barium enema test, blood tests for specific cancer gene testing, high fibre diet, avoiding smoked meat and salted stored fish, pickles, avoiding red meat and replacing it with white meat like fish and chicken, avoiding beer and instead taking red wine, weight control, for colon cancer prevention.
- Three shots of anti-virus vaccination in muscles of arm, virus testing and cell testing by latest liquid wet method instead of old dry slide method, avoiding tobacco, colposcopy biopsy, cryotherapy, for cervix/ uterine cancer prevention.
- Blood test for tumour marker PSA, trucut biopsy, ultrasound, for prostate cancer prevention.
- Gastroscopy, H. pylori bacterial testing and medicines, for gastric cancer prevention.
- Ultrasound of neck, blood tests for specific cancer genes, early childhood surgery of thyroid, for medullary thyroid cancer prevention.
- Ultrasound of testes, repositioning of undescended testes outside abdomen, for testicular cancer prevention.
- Removal of penile skin prepuces, for prevention of penile cancer in males and cervix cancer in females.
- Ultrasound of abdomen, blood for specific cancer gene testing, for ovary cancer prevention.
- Avoid noon or excessive sun exposure, cosmic and machine radiation exposure, use sun screens, full-covered clothing, direct long term heat and use of kangri etc in long winters, for skin cancer prevention.
- Get gall bladder and urinary bladder stones removed to avoid physical insult and cancer in later years.
- Eye testing fundoscopy, blood cancer for specific gene testing, for eye cancer prevention.
- Virus HTLV 1 testing in mother’s milk and counseling against infected mother’s milk feeding to avoid virus related lymphoma and blood cancer prevention in children.
- CT scan of thorax for heavy tobacco smokers, avoiding tobacco, for lung cancer prevention.
- Hepatitis B vaccination, avoiding rice and maize infected with aflatoxin fungus, for liver cancer prevention.
Some dos and don’ts for prevention of cancer:
- Go for necessary lifestyle changes such as incorporating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise and saying an absolute NO to tobacco.
- Undergo regular health checkups and keep your weight, sugar, fat and blood pressure under control.
- Preferably have health insurance. 95 per cent of cancer happens in families where no family member has ever had cancer before, so it is wrong to feel safe if no one in your family has had cancer. Everyone must adopt cancer safe procedures.
- Don’t depend upon modern tests alone like endoscopies, X-rays, ultrasound, MRI, and blood tests only.
- Don’t use vitamins for antismoking effects on lungs as they in fact have shown to increase cancer risks.
- Don’t use presumptive self-medication for more than four weeks for any body problem and consider a test for cancer.
- Don’t wait for well-advertised warning signs of cancer, and don’t avoid preventive procedures waiting for cancer signs to develop.