What is Cancer?
Cancer is a broad term. It describes the disease that results when cellular changes cause the uncontrolled growth and division of cells. Some types of cancer cause rapid cell growth, while others cause cells to grow and divide at a slower rate. Certain forms of cancer result in visible growths called tumours, while others, such as leukaemia, do not.
Cancer statistics in India
- One woman dies of cervical cancer every 8 minutes in India.
- For every 2 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, one woman dies of it in India.
- Mortality due to tobacco use in India is estimated above 3500 persons every day.
- Tobacco (smoked and smokeless) use accounted for 3,17,928 deaths (approx) in men and women in 2018.
- Cancer took 7 lakh lives in India in 2018.
- India has around 22.5 lakh people living with cancer.
- Every year, more than 11 lakh new cancer patients are registered in India.
Signs and symptoms caused by cancer will vary depending on what part of the body is affected. Some general signs and symptoms associated with, but not specific to, cancer, include:
- Lump or area of thickening that can be felt under the skin.
- Weight changes, including unintended loss or gain.
- Skin changes, such as darkening or redness of the skin, sores that won’t heal, or changes to existing moles.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Persistent indigestion or discomfort after eating.
- Persistent, unexplained muscle or joint pain.
- Unexplained bleeding or bruising.
What causes cancer
Cancer is caused by changes (mutations) to the DNA within cells. The DNA inside a cell is packaged into a large number of individual genes, each of which contains a set of instructions telling the cell what functions to perform, as well as how to grow and divide. Errors in the instructions can cause the cell to stop its normal function and may allow a cell to become cancerous.
What do gene mutations do?
A gene mutation can instruct a healthy cell to:
- Allow rapid growth. A gene mutation can tell a cell to grow and divide more rapidly. This creates many new cells that all have that same mutation.
- Fail to stop uncontrolled cell growth. Normal cells know when to stop growing so that you have just the right number of each type of cell. Cancer cells lose the controls (tumor suppressor genes) that tell them when to stop growing. A mutation in a tumor suppressor gene allows cancer cells to continue growing and accumulating.
- Make mistakes when repairing DNA errors. DNA repair genes look for errors in a cell’s DNA and make corrections. A mutation in a DNA repair gene may mean that other errors aren’t corrected, leading cells to become cancerous.
These mutations are the most common ones found in cancer. But many other gene mutations can contribute to causing cancer. 5 to 10% gene mutations are due to genetic reasons. Others are caused due to smoking, radiation, viruses, cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens), obesity, hormones, chronic inflammation and a lack of exercise.
Here are a few steps to take in daily life to prevent cancer.
1. Say No to Tobacco – The use of tobacco products has been linked to many types of cancer, including lung, colorectal, breast, throat, cervical, bladder, mouth and oesophageal. It’s never too late to quit.
2. Protect your skin from sun – Skin cancer is the most preventable form of cancer. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation causes most skin cancer. Be sure to use adequate sun protection year-round.
3. Eat a healthy diet – Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Limit red meat and cut out processed meats. It is also important to limit alcohol consumption because alcohol can increase your risk for liver, colorectal and breast cancers.
4. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active – Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day can make a big difference in your general health and well-being. Inactivity and obesity have been linked to breast and colorectal cancer.
5. Practise safe sex – Many strains of the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, are spread through skin to skin contact during vaginal, anal and oral sex. High-risk strains of HPV have increasingly been found to cause many types of cancer.
6. Get immunized – Certain viruses have been linked to cancer, but are preventable through vaccination. Talk to your doctor about preventive cancer care.
7. Be regular with cancer screenings – Talk to your family doctor to know more cancer screening tests. Early detection highly increases your chances of recovery.
Below are examples of approaches to cancer treatment:
- Chemotherapy aims to kill cancerous cells with medications that target rapidly dividing cells. The drugs can also help shrink tumors, but the side effects can be severe.
- Hormone therapy involves taking medications that change how certain hormones work or interfere with the body’s ability to produce them.
- Immunotherapy uses medications and other treatments to boost the immune system and encourage them to fight cancerous cells.
- Radiation therapy uses high-dose radiation to kill cancerous cells. Also, a doctor may recommend using radiation to shrink a tumor before surgery or reduce tumor-related symptoms.
- Stem cell transplant can be especially beneficial for people with blood-related cancers, such as leukemia or lymphoma. It involves removing cells, such as red or white blood cells, that chemotherapy or radiation has destroyed. Lab technicians then strengthen the cells and put them back into the body.
- Surgery is often a part of a treatment plan when a person has a cancerous tumor. Also, a surgeon may remove lymph nodes to reduce or prevent the disease’s spread.
- Targeted therapies perform functions within cancerous cells to prevent them from multiplying. They can also boost the immune system. Two examples of these therapies are small-molecule drugs and monoclonal antibodies.
Doctors will often employ more than one type of treatment to maximize effectiveness.
Cancer care at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital:
Our Centre for Cancer is equipped with high-end technologies like:
- EDGE Radiosurgery system, Asia’s first equipment which enables precise, non-invasive treatments helping patients heal faster with less discomfort.
- We are the first hospital in India to have Novalis TX machine, which performs high precision surgeries to remove deep-seated tumours.
- We have the first Trilogy (linear accelerator) in India, which is capable of performing on-board CT scan, KV and MV imaging with respiratory gating systems.
Cancer Care in rural Maharashtra:
- Our team has started Cancer care centres across Maharashtra under Reliance Hospitals. We plan to establish 18 cancer care centres across Maharashtra. The centres will be managed and operated by Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. The new cancer centres will be equipped with advanced TrueBeam® medical linear accelerators to equip them with the latest technology. The Akola, Gondia and Solapur Reliance Cancer centres are now open and the rest will follow in a few years. We aim to make world-class cancer care accessible to all Indians.
Please find below link of our Cancer care facilities in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and in rural Maharashtra: