Over 15 lakh people in our country have been added last year alone to many lakhs of people already suffering from cancer so far, according to recent reports. The numbers are likely to go up by at least 50 % by 2040. Cancer did not and will not spare anyone irrespective of richness, literacy, status, position, profession, country, race, religion, age, or gender.
From laborious, active, simple past routine in a pure environment, we have moved into industrious, machinery driven, inactive routine in a polluted environment. Increasing age and the rapidly changing lifestyle have just not evolved our diet, habits, and way of living but also brought changes in genes and changed then to total autonomy, tendency to ignore the natural calls for control and body limits. They have learned to grow uncontrollably; cross all limits and ultimately result in cessation of life. Identifying and control of these cells requires a lot of energy, strategies, medicines, rays, and skills almost with military precision. This is possible but when done at the right time and manner.
We are seeing younger people than ever before. I am reminded of a 24-year-old boy with stage IV colon cancer and an 18- year-old young girl with ovarian cancer. Such stories are echoed by many oncologists all over India.
While the number of cancer survival is increasing in western countries, it is not the same in our countries. Cancer of the lung, mouth, and throat in men and cancer of the breast, cervix, and ovary in females are the commonest cancer. Cancer of the breast is rapidly rising in India and is commonest in our country among women.
Amid the cancer awareness scenario, there is a need for each of us to make people aware of cancer, its impact on an individual and his family and society. Firstly, it is important to understand that is a lifestyle disease as is diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, etc. So, it is very much preventable, simply by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, avoid red meat and processed meat, maintain ideal body weight, exercise daily for 30-60 minutes as obesity is not only the cause of heart disease but also a risk factor for 30% of all cancers. Avoid the use of tobacco, take alcohol in moderation, encourage mothers to breastfeed the newborn for at least 6 months, and get all young girls before 26 years of age vaccinated for cervical cancer, the second common cancer in our country.