Cancer survivors are cancer overriders

sadOutlook and approach to cancer has changed and improved dramatically.
Dr Sudarsan De,
Chairman Oncology & Senior Consultant, Galaxy Cancer
Institute shares his views and vision with Shahid Akhter, ENN

Cancer prence in India is pegged at 2.5 million ? Reason behind this steep escalation in the recent past ?
Yes, cancer graph is alarming. one million new cases are diagnosed every year in India. At any given point of time there are 2.5 million people affected by cancer. Today cancer diagnosis has improved and more patients are coming forward and this accounts for the steep rise. The other reason for rise in figure can be attributed to polluted air and water, deteriorating quality of food ( additives, preservatives, insecticides, pesticides, fertilisers, hormones, coloring agents, et al), industrialisation, packaged food, use of plastics, fasts food, high fat intake, low consumption of green vegetables) and finally lifestyle changes. The causes are varied and various, but a good many of them are within are immediate control and the choice is yours.

Unlike other diseases ( eg diabetes or CVD), cancer is feared and almost associated with despair and death. How do you allay this fear ?
Gone are the days when cancer was synonymous to death. Unlike diabetes or CVD, cancer does not linger and one is not required to live with it for life. Today cancer is highly curable. The patient and the family need to garner courage, come up for diagnosis and early treatment. They need to dispel the myths associated with cancer.

Cancer is more curable than chronic diseases like diabetes or asthma. The result greatly depends on the morale of the patient, who needs to have the mental strength to emerge a winner

How good is our understanding of Cancer ?
Research is enormous but still it seems we still dont fully understand it. Quite true. Despite enormous research and advancements, cancer continues to be elusive and we can term our findings as preliminary. It is a multi factorial disease triggered by lots of chemical phenomenon leading to mutation of genes. We have understood few of the things at molecular level but down the lane, say within a decade, cancer will be decoded, the mutation pathways identified and blocked.

What are the common modalities of cancer treatment ?
Treatment of cancer can involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and the combination of modalities. Surgery is the oldest form of effective cancer treatment and it continues to be an option. Usually modalities are combined and this is tailor made to match the precise tumor characteristics.

What is the role of Radiation Therapy in management of cancer and how does it kill the cancer cells?
In India 65-70 percent of cancer requires radiation therapy. Here, highenergy radiation ( X rays or gamma rays) is put to use to shrink the tumors and kills the cells. The radiation is either sourced externally from a distance ( external beam radiation therapy) or may be placed within the body near the cancer cells (brachytherapy). Today, newer techniques of radiation therapy focuses precisely on the tumor bearing area and spares the normal tissues.

Do you recommend genetic testing ? Has it established any medical value?
Genetic testing is not for everyone. It is recommended only for people with certain types of cancer running in the families. Most cancers are triggered by gene mutations that develop during a persons life time. Inherited mu-tations are few and far so it cant be a test for everyone. These tests are mostly done for predictive reasons.

Is proton beam radiation really better than the standard Xray radiation treatment ?
Proton beam is the latest toy in cancer cure. It is the next generation treatment and has the potential to outwit the most resistant tumors, besides it is very precise in targeting and has other unique features like high safety standards and so on. So far it is not available in India The downside is its price and the area that it occupies. Commercially it is being prepared and in days to come it will be there.

Any message that you wish to convey to the cancer patients ?
Cancer is not just curable in early stages but also advanced stages. I need to add that it is more curable than chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma or CVDs. The result of the treatment entirely depends on the morale of the patient. He needs to have mental strength and the spirit to win. Millions have overpowered cancer and sure you will. Attitude matters and resolution counts. There is prevailing myth that biopsy is the cause for the spread of cancer. Absolutely not. It is just an essential part of the diagnosis, nothing more. Often people are inclined to think that they must have done something wrong and cancer is the punishment of doom. Well, cancer is just is a disease like any other and certainly not doomed. It is better cured than other diseases.


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