Frequently asked questions about cancer

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, or nearly one in six deaths. In India, the most common forms of cancer are breast cancer, cervical cancer, and oral cancer. Cancer is serious but no longer an automatic death sentence. Early diagnosis, regular check-ups, and the right treatment can easily

Dr. Anil Kamath is a renowned Surgical Oncologist in Bengaluru and currently practicing in Apollo Hospitals, Bengaluru. For the past 17 years, he has worked as a Cancer Surgeon. He is a well-known member of the Association of Surgical Oncologists and Union International Cancer Control, Geneva.

Dr. Anil begins, “Broadly most cancers have got four stages. The stage depends upon the extent cancer has spread.

Stage 1 – Cancer is localized to a small area and hasn’t spread to its outer parts.

Stage 2 – cancer has grown but it hasn’t spread.

Stage 3 – Cancer has grown larger and possibly spread to lymph nodes and nearby tissues

Stage 4 – Cancer has spread to other organs and areas of the body

The stage is important for reference and to determine the method of treatment.”

Multiple cancers simultaneously

Incidences of multiple cancer at a time can occur but it’s very rare. Common risk factors and genetic factors are the underlying causes of multiple primary cancers. For example, smoking may cause lung cancer as well as food pipe cancer. 

Why are cancer rates increasing?

True increase – Owing to increased lifespan. Cancer is a lifestyle disease. The unhealthy lifestyle we are living is also contributing to the increasing rates of cancer.

Apparent increase – Cancer detection tests are easily available now.

Can cancer be cured completely?

Dr. Anil emphasizes, “Whether the person’s cancer can be cured depends upon the type and stage of cancer. No two cancers are the same, thyroid is the least aggressive cancer while lung cancer is the most aggressive one. So, we can’t paint with one brush. The stages also differ. Stage 1 can give 90% cure rates while stage 4 gives 5-10% only.

The method of treatment also determines the cancer results. But things are really improving in the field.” 

When to go for a diagnosis?

Dr. Anil says, “Screening has an important role in detecting cancer. Cancers that are good for screening are breast cancer and cervical cancer. A mammogram is a screening test for breast cancer. This test can detect cancer at a very early stage, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt. This is the best test for breast cancer which can tell the possibility also. 

A Pap smear test is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women. The test involves collecting cells from the cervix and examining them under a microscope. It can detect changes in cervical cells that suggest cancer may develop in the future. Early detection can help to halt the possible development of cervical cancer in the future.” 

Dr. Anil adds, “Doctors recommend women above 40 years of age should go for annual breast screening with mammograms and Pap smear test for cervical cancer every year.

Apart from these two, the role of screening for detecting other cancers is intermediate or low. The role of screening is very low in lung cancer. The doctor recommends screening tests based on the symptoms and risk factors.”

Rapid fire

  1. Green tea or coffee – Which reduces the risk of cancer

A healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of cancer. 

      2. Workout helps in the recovery from cancer

Healthy lifestyle and maintaining an appropriate weight help in preventing cancer. Workout alone cannot prevent. 

     3. Mobile phones can cause cancers

There is no strong evidence that suggests that mobile phones cause cancer.

(Edited by Renu Gupta)


Contributed By: Dr. Anil Kamath, Oncologist, Apollo Hospital
Tags : #Healthcare-Trending-Topic #DrAnilKamath #Apollohospital #Health #Cancer #Cancercauses #Breastcancer #Cervicalcancer #Oralcancer #Cancerdiagnosis #Cancerdetection #Screeningtest #Cancercure #Cancerstages #Cancertreatment #Medicircle #SmitaKumar

About the Author

Renu Gupta

With a background in Pharmacy which is the clinical health science that links medical science with chemistry, I had the desire to mix creativity to these fields. Medicircle provides me an avenue to apply my training in science and interest in creativity together.

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