NATIONAL CANCER AWARENESS DAY
Cancer is an illness that occurs when some of the body cells grow out of control and spread to other body regions. As the body requires new cells, human cells typically expand and divide to create them. Cells die when they are old or injured, and new cells replace them. Since the human body is made up of trillions of cells, practically it can begin anywhere. 1
Cancer or tumors (tissue masses) develop when this systematic mechanism malfunctions. Tumors can be either benign or malignant. Metastasis is a process that allows cancerous tumors to invade or spread into nearby tissues as well as to travel to remote regions of the body to create new tumors. Cancerous tumors may also be called malignant tumors.1
There are five main types of cancer:2
- Carcinoma: This cancer affects organs and glands, such as the lungs, breasts, pancreas, and skin. It is the most common type of cancer.
- Sarcoma: This cancer affects soft or connective tissues, such as muscle, fat, bone, cartilage, or blood vessels.
- Melanoma: Sometimes cancer can develop in the cells that pigment the skin.
- Lymphoma: This cancer affects your lymphocytes or white blood cells.
- Leukemia: This type of cancer affects the blood.
According to The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the cancer burden in India would increase from 1.39 million in 2020 to 1.57 million in 2025.3
Thus, it is important to raise awareness about cancer among Indians which might help decrease the incidences of cancer.
Cancer symptoms and signs:4
Cancer may cause many symptoms, but these symptoms are most often caused by illness, injury, benign tumors, or other problems. Some of the symptoms that cancer may cause include:
- Changes in Breast, Bladder and Bowel
- Bleeding or bruising, for no known reason
- Blood in the stools
- Cough or hoarseness that does not go away
- Pain after eating (heartburn or indigestion that doesn’t go away)
- Belly pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite changes
- Fatigue that is severe and lasts
- A white or red patch on the tongue or in your mouth
- Bleeding, pain, or numbness in the lip or mouth
- Neurological problems
- A flesh-colored lump that bleeds or turns scaly
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
- Swelling or lumps anywhere such as in the neck, underarms, stomach, and groin
- Weight gain or weight loss for no known reason
Risk factors for Cancer:5
- Age: Cancer can take decades to develop. The reason that most people diagnosed with cancer are 65 or older
- Daily Habits: Certain lifestyle choices are known to increase your risk of cancer. Smoking, drinking more than one drink a day, excessive exposure to the sun or frequent blistering sunburns, and being obese may contribute to cancer.
- Family history: Only a small portion of cancers are due to an inherited condition. If cancer is common in the family, it’s possible that mutations are being passed from one generation to the next.
- Health conditions: Some chronic health conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, can markedly increase the risk of developing certain cancers.
- Environment: The environment around us may contain harmful chemicals that can increase the risk of cancer. Chemicals in the home or workplace are associated with an increased risk of cancer.
Complications in cancer and its treatments are as follows:
- Pain: It can be caused by cancer or by cancer treatment. Medications and other approaches can
- Weight loss: Cancer steals food from normal cells and deprives them of nutrients. This is often not affected by how many calories or what kind of food is eaten; it’s difficult to treat and it affects weight.
- Chemical changes in the body: Cancer can upset the normal chemical balance in the body and increase the risk of serious complications.
- Brain and nervous system problems: Cancer can press on nearby nerves and cause pain and loss of function in one part of your body.
- Unusual immune system reactions to cancer: In some cases, the body’s immune system may react to the presence of cancer by attacking healthy cells.
- Cancer that spreads and returns: As cancer advances, it may spread (metastasize) and also recurrence to other parts of the body.
- Quit smoking: Smoking is linked to several types of cancer. Stopping smoking will reduce the risk of cancer in the future.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure: Harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can increase the risk of skin cancer. Limit your sun exposure by staying in the shade.
- Eat a healthy diet: Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Select whole grains and lean proteins. Limit intake of processed meats.
- Exercise most days of the week: Regular exercise is linked to a lower risk of cancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese may increase the risk of cancer. Work to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through a combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise.
- Schedule cancer screening tests: Regular screenings for cancer may increase the chances of discovering cancer early when treatment is most likely to be successful.
Treatment for Cancer:6
Some common treatments for cancer are as follows:
- Chemotherapy: It is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells.
- Hormone Therapy: This treatment slows or stops the growth of breast and prostate cancers that use hormones to grow.
- Hyperthermia: In this type of treatment, the body tissue is heated to as high as 113 °F to help damage and kill cancer cells with little or no harm to normal tissue.
- Immunotherapy: It is a type of cancer treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer.
- Photodynamic Therapy: It uses a drug activated by light to kill cancer and other abnormal cells.
- Radiation Therapy: It is a type of cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
- Stem Cell Transplant: In this procedure restores stem cells that grow into blood cells in people who have had theirs destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
- Surgery: It is a procedure in which a surgeon removes cancer from your body.
- Targeted Therapy: It is a type of cancer treatment that targets the changes in cancer cells that help them grow, divide, and spread.
Every year National Cancer Awareness Day is observed on November 7 across the country to spread awareness of symptoms, treatments, and precautions against cancer. The day highlights the significance of increased awareness about cancer prevention and early detection for the general public.7National Cancer Awareness Day also encourages people to report to government hospitals, CGHS, and municipal clinics for a free screening. Programs for cancer awareness are essential because it is better to treat cancer in its early stages the sooner it is discovered.
On this day, publications or booklets about cancer awareness, prevention methods, and symptoms are distributed as part of one of the many government-run awareness campaigns. For early discovery and early treatment, all of these measures are essential. 8
- What is cancer? Available at:https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/what-is-cancer. Assessed on 18th October 2022.
- Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12194-cancer. Assessed on 18th October 2022.
- Why Cancer Cases Are Increasing In India? Report Estimates 12% Surge In Next Five Years. Available at: https://www.mrmed.in/health-library/cancer-care/cancer-rise-india-report-2022. Assessed on 18th October 2022.
- Symptoms of Cancer. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/symptoms. Assessed on 18th October 2022.
- Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20370588. Assessed on 18th October 2022.
- Types of Cancer Treatment. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types. Assessed on 18th October 2022.
- National Cancer Awareness Day – November 7, 2022. Available at: https://nationaltoday.com/national-cancer-awareness-day/#. Assessed on 18th October 2022.
- Know All About National Cancer Awareness Day. Available at: https://thelogicalindian.com/trending/national-cancer-awareness-day-2021-31765. Assessed on 18th October 2022.