Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is cancer ?

    Cancer is a complex group of diseases characterized by the abnormal growth and division of cells in the body. Normally, cells grow and divide in an orderly manner to replace old or damaged cells and to support the body's various functions. However, in the case of cancer, this process becomes disrupted.

    Cancer begins when genetic mutations occur within the DNA of a cell, which can be caused by a variety of factors such as exposure to certain chemicals or radiation, genetic predisposition, or errors during cell division. These mutations can lead to the loss of normal cell growth control mechanisms, resulting in uncontrolled cell division and the formation of a mass of abnormal cells called a tumor.

    Cancer can affect any part of the body and is named based on the organ or tissue in which it originates. For e.g, if it starts in the breast, it is called breast cancer, and if it starts in the lung, it is called lung cancer.

  • What is tumour ?

    Certain mutations can lead to the loss of normal cell growth control mechanisms, resulting in uncontrolled cell division and the formation of a mass of abnormal cells called a "tumor".

    Tumors can be classified into two main types: benign and malignant. Benign tumors are generally non-cancerous and do not spread to other parts of the body. They tend to grow slowly and are usually localized to a specific area. Malignant tumors, on the other hand, are cancerous and have the ability to invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system. This process is known as metastasis.

  • What are the risk factors for developing cancer ?

    There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing cancer. It's important to note that having one or more risk factors does not guarantee that an individual will develop cancer, as many people with these risk factors never develop the disease. Likewise, some people without known risk factors can still develop cancer. Here are some common risk factors associated with cancer:

    1. Age: The risk of cancer generally increases with age. As cells accumulate genetic mutations over time, the likelihood of abnormal cell growth and cancer development increases.

    2. Tobacco Use: Smoking and tobacco use are strongly linked to various types of cancer, including lung, throat, mouth, esophageal, bladder, kidney, and pancreatic cancers. Second-hand smoke exposure can also increase the risk. Nearly 1/3rd of all cancers are directly related to tobacco use.

    3. Family History and Genetics: Around 10% of cancers are familial. They run in families due to inherited gene mutations. For example, certain mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. However, it's important to note that most cancers are not solely determined by genetics and are influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

    4. Environmental Factors: Exposure to certain chemicals and substances in the environment can increase the risk of developing cancer. This includes exposure to asbestos, certain industrial chemicals, radiation, air pollution, and harmful UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds.

    5. Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices: Poor lifestyle habits such as an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, excessive alcohol consumption, and obesity have been linked to an increased risk of various cancers.

    6. Viral and Bacterial Infections: Certain viral and bacterial infections are associated with an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. Examples include human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, hepatitis B and C viruses and liver cancer, and Helicobacter pylori bacteria and stomach cancer.

    7. Hormonal Factors: Hormonal imbalances or long-term hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can increase the risk of certain cancers. For instance, estrogen exposure without the counterbalance of progesterone can increase the risk of breast cancer in women.

    8. Previous Cancer History: Individuals who have had cancer in the past have a higher risk of developing another cancer.

    It's important to remember that reducing exposure to risk factors, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and undergoing regular screenings can help in the prevention and early detection of cancer.

  • What are the common signs & symptoms of cancer ?

    Cancer can cause a wide range of signs and symptoms, and these can vary depending on the type of cancer, its location, and its stage. Some common signs and symptoms of cancer include:

    1. Unexplained weight loss: If you lose weight without trying, it could be a sign of cancer.

    2. Fatigue: If you feel unusually tired or exhausted, even after getting enough rest, it could be a symptom of cancer.

    3. Pain: Pain that is persistent and doesn't go away, even with medication, can be a symptom of cancer.

    4. Changes in the skin: Changes in the color, size, or shape of a mole or freckle, or the development of new spots on the skin can be a sign of skin cancer.

    5. Changes in bowel or bladder habits: Blood in the stool or urine, diarrhea, constipation, or a change in bowel or bladder habits can be a sign of colorectal or bladder cancer.

    6. Abnormal vaginal bleeding: These could be signs of Uterine or Cervical cancer.

    7. Persistant, non-healing oral ulcer: Could be sign of oral cavity (mouth) cancer.

    8. Difficulty swallowing or persistent indigestion: These can be symptoms of esophageal or stomach cancer.

    9. Persistent cough or hoarseness: These can be symptoms of lung cancer.

    10. Swelling or lumps: A lump or swelling in neck, groin, armpits or breasts that doesn't go away can be a sign of cancer.

    11. Unexplained fever: A persistent fever that doesn't have an obvious cause can be a symptom of certain types of cancer, such as lymphoma or leukemia.

    It's important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other medical conditions, so it's important to speak with a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. Additionally, some types of cancer, such as early-stage cancers, may not cause any symptoms at all, which is why regular cancer screenings are important for early detection.

  • How is cancer diagnosed ?

    Cancer can be diagnosed through various methods and procedures. The specific diagnostic tests used may vary depending on the type of cancer suspected. Here are some common methods used for cancer diagnosis:

    1. Medical history and physical examination: The doctor will review the patient's medical history and ask about any symptoms or risk factors. A physical examination may be performed to check for any abnormalities.

    2. Imaging tests: Imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, ultrasound, or PET scans may be used to visualize the internal structures of the body and detect any suspicious areas or tumors.

    3. Laboratory tests: Blood tests or urine tests can help identify certain tumour markers that may indicate the presence of cancer or provide information about organ function.

    4. Biopsy: A biopsy involves the removal of a sample of tissue or cells from the suspected tumor or affected area. This sample is then examined under a microscope by a pathologist to determine if cancer cells are present. There are different types of biopsies, including needle biopsies, surgical biopsies, or minimally invasive procedures like endoscopic biopsies. This is the "gold standard" for diagnosing & confirming cancer.

    5. Molecular testing: Molecular tests (e.g: PCR or NGS) analyze the genetic and molecular characteristics of cancer cells. These tests can help determine specific genetic mutations or alterations that may guide treatment decisions or provide prognostic information.

    6. Endoscopy: Endoscopic procedures use a flexible tube with a camera to visualize the inside of organs or body cavities. This allows the doctor to examine, take guided biopsies and collect samples from areas such as the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, or bladder.

    7. Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: These procedures involve the collection of a small sample of bone marrow from the hip-bone to examine for abnormalities in the blood-forming cells. They are commonly used to diagnose blood cancers such as leukemia, myeloma or lymphoma.

    Once a cancer diagnosis is confirmed, further tests may be performed to determine the stage of cancer, which helps guide treatment decisions and prognosis. Staging may involve additional imaging tests, such as a CT scan, PET scan, or bone scan, as well as other procedures specific to the type of cancer.

  • How is cancer treated ?

    Cancer treatment options vary depending on the type and stage of cancer, as well as individual factors such as overall health and patient preferences. Here are some common cancer treatment modalities:

    1. Surgery: Surgery involves the removal of cancerous tumors or tissues from the body. It is often used for solid tumors and aims to remove the cancer completely. In some cases, nearby lymph nodes may also be removed. Surgery can be curative if the cancer is localized and has not spread to other parts of the body.

    2. Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. It is often used in combination with surgery or as a standalone treatment. Radiation therapy can be delivered externally (external beam radiation) or internally (brachytherapy), depending on the type and location of cancer.

    3. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves the use of powerful drugs to kill cancer cells or stop their growth. These drugs can be administered orally, intravenously, or through other methods. Chemotherapy is often used when cancer has spread to multiple sites or as an adjuvant therapy to reduce the risk of recurrence after surgery.

    4. Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy stimulates the body's immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. It can enhance the immune response, enabling the immune system to better target and destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy can be used for various types of cancer and may be administered through injections or intravenous infusions.

    5. Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy uses drugs that specifically target certain genetic or molecular abnormalities in cancer cells. By targeting specific molecules or pathways involved in cancer growth, targeted therapy can interfere with the cancer's ability to thrive and spread.

    6. Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy is used for cancers that are hormone-sensitive, such as breast and prostate cancer. It aims to block or interfere with the hormones that promote cancer growth. Hormone therapy may involve the use of medications that lower hormone levels or medications that block hormone receptors.

    7. Stem cell transplant: Stem cell transplant, also known as bone marrow transplant, may be used in certain cases of blood-related cancers or high-dose chemotherapy. It involves replacing diseased or damaged bone marrow with healthy stem cells to allow the production of new, healthy blood cells.

    8. Palliative care: Palliative care focuses on relieving symptoms and improving the quality of life for individuals with advanced or incurable cancer. It aims to manage pain, provide psychological support, and address other physical and emotional symptoms.

    Treatment plans are often personalized and may involve a combination of these approaches, depending on the specific circumstances of each case. The treatment decision is typically made by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, and other specialists.

  • What is Chemotherapy ?

    Chemotherapy is a medical treatment that uses powerful drugs to destroy or slow down the growth of cancer cells in the body. It is one of the most common and widely used methods for treating cancer.

    Chemotherapy drugs work by targeting rapidly dividing cells, which includes cancer cells.

  • How chemotherapy works ?

    Chemotherapy can be used in different ways depending on the type and stage of cancer. It can be used as the primary treatment to eliminate cancer cells, or it may be used before surgery or radiation therapy to shrink tumors and make them easier to remove. Additionally, chemotherapy can be used after surgery or radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of recurrence.

  • How chemotherapy is administered & dosed ?

    Chemotherapy drugs can be administered through different methods, including orally (in the form of pills or capsules), intravenously (directly into a vein), or by injection into a muscle or under the skin, or even by intra-vesical route (inside urinary bladder via catheter). The frequency and duration of chemotherapy treatment depend on various factors, such as the type of cancer, its stage, and the individual's overall health.

  • What are the common side effects of chemotherapy ?

    Chemotherapy can also affect healthy cells in the body that divide rapidly, such as those in the bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract, and hair follicles. This is why chemotherapy often has side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea, hair loss, fatigue, lowered immune function, and increased susceptibility to infections. However, advancements in supportive care and the development of newer & safer chemotherapy drugs have helped in managing and minimizing these side effects.

     

  • What is Targeted therapy ?

    Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that specifically targets the abnormalities or specific molecules that contribute to the growth and survival of cancer cells. It aims to interfere with the specific pathways or proteins involved in the development and progression of cancer.

    Unlike traditional chemotherapy, which affects both cancer cells and normal cells that divide rapidly, targeted therapy is designed to selectively target cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy cells. Usually targeted therapy has much less side effects & better tolerated by patient than chemotherapy.

    Targeted therapy drugs come in different forms, such as small molecule inhibitors or monoclonal antibodies. Small molecule inhibitors are drugs that can block the activity of specific proteins or enzymes involved in cancer growth. Monoclonal antibodies, on the other hand, are designed to bind to specific receptors on cancer cells, thereby inhibiting their growth or signaling pathways.

  • What is Immunotherapy ?

    The immune system plays a crucial role in identifying and eliminating abnormal cells in the body, including cancer cells. However, cancer cells can sometimes evade or suppress the immune response, allowing them to grow and spread. Immunotherapy works by activating or boosting the immune system to better recognize and attack cancer cells.

    Immunotherapy has shown significant promise in the treatment of various types of cancer, including melanoma, lung cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and certain types of lymphoma. It has demonstrated durable responses and improved survival rates in some cases. However, not all patients respond to immunotherapy, and its effectiveness can vary depending on the type and stage of cancer, as well as individual factors.

  • What is hormone therapy ?

    Hormones are natural substances produced by glands in the body that regulate various functions and processes, including cell growth and reproduction. Some cancers are hormone-sensitive, meaning they rely on certain hormones to grow and spread. Hormone therapy aims to disrupt the hormone signaling pathways in these cancers, thereby slowing down or inhibiting their growth.

    Hormone therapy is commonly used in the treatment of breast cancer and prostate cancer, as these cancers often have hormone receptors on their cells. The most common types of hormone therapy for breast cancer involve blocking estrogen receptors (anti-estrogen therapy) or reducing estrogen levels in the body. In prostate cancer, hormone therapy typically involves blocking the production or action of testosterone, which fuels the growth of prostate cancer cells.

    Hormone therapy can be administered in several ways, including:

    1. Medications: Hormone therapy drugs can be taken orally in the form of pills or tablets. These medications work by blocking the receptors for hormones or reducing hormone production.

    2. Hormone-suppressing injections: In some cases, hormone therapy may involve injections or implants that suppress hormone production or block hormone action.

    3. Surgical interventions: For certain hormone-sensitive cancers, surgical procedures may be performed to remove hormone-producing organs or to block the hormone supply to the cancer cells. For example, in some cases of breast cancer, surgical removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy) may be recommended to reduce estrogen levels.

    Hormone therapy can be used at different stages of cancer treatment. It may be used as the primary treatment for hormone receptor-positive cancers, as an adjuvant therapy following surgery or radiation, or as a palliative treatment to control the growth and spread of advanced or metastatic cancer.

     

  • What is stem cell transplant ?

    A bone marrow transplant, also known as a hematopoietic stem cell transplant, is a medical procedure that involves replacing damaged or destroyed bone marrow with healthy stem cells. The bone marrow is the spongy tissue found inside the bones, responsible for producing various types of blood cells, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

    A bone marrow transplant may be recommended for individuals with certain cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma, as well as certain non-cancerous conditions, such as severe aplastic anemia or certain immune system disorders.

    There are different types of bone marrow transplants, including:

    1. Autologous transplant: In an autologous transplant, the patient's own healthy stem cells are collected and stored before undergoing high-dose chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Once the treatment is completed, the stored stem cells are returned to the patient's body to repopulate the bone marrow and restore normal blood cell production.

    2. Allogeneic transplant: In an allogeneic transplant, healthy stem cells are obtained from a compatible donor, often a sibling or a matched unrelated donor. Before the transplant, the recipient undergoes conditioning therapy, which includes chemotherapy and/or radiation, to destroy the existing bone marrow cells. The donor's stem cells are then infused into the recipient's bloodstream, where they migrate to the bone marrow and begin producing new blood cells.

    3. Umbilical cord blood transplant: Umbilical cord blood, which contains stem cells, can also be used for transplantation. This method involves collecting stem cells from the umbilical cord of a newborn baby immediately after birth. The cord blood is frozen and stored until needed for a transplant.

    The bone marrow transplant procedure typically involves the following steps:

    1. Stem cell collection: For autologous transplants, stem cells are collected from the patient's own bone marrow or peripheral blood. For allogeneic or cord blood transplants, the stem cells are obtained from a donor. Stem cell collection may involve apheresis, where blood is drawn from the donor and the stem cells are separated and collected, or it may require a bone marrow harvest procedure.

    2. Conditioning therapy: Before the transplant, the patient may receive high-dose chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells and suppress the immune system, making room for the new stem cells to engraft and start producing healthy blood cells.

    3. Transplantation: The collected stem cells are infused into the patient's bloodstream through a vein. The stem cells then migrate to the bone marrow and gradually begin to produce new blood cells.

    4. Recovery and monitoring: After the transplant, the patient is closely monitored for complications, such as infections, graft-versus-host disease (in allogeneic transplants), and other side effects. Supportive care, including medications to manage side effects and prevent complications, is provided throughout the recovery period.

    Bone marrow transplant carries risks and potential complications, and the procedure requires specialized medical expertise and careful management. The selection of the transplant type depends on various factors, including the patient's specific condition, age, overall health, and the availability of a suitable donor.

    The ultimate goal of a bone marrow transplant is to restore healthy blood cell production and improve long-term survival for individuals with certain cancers or blood-related disorders.

  • What is Palliative care ?

    Palliative care is a specialized approach to healthcare that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress associated with serious illnesses, like cancers, particularly those that are life-threatening or incurable. The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for both patients and their families.

    Palliative care is not limited to end-of-life situations and can be provided at any stage of a serious illness, alongside curative or life-prolonging treatments. It is an interdisciplinary approach that involves a team of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, and other specialists, who work together to address the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of patients.

    Key elements of palliative care include:

    1. Symptom management: Palliative care focuses on alleviating physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue, and loss of appetite. The team works closely with the patient to develop personalized strategies and medication regimens to manage these symptoms effectively.

    2. Psychological and emotional support: Palliative care professionals provide counseling, emotional support, and guidance to patients and their families. They address fears, anxieties, and emotional distress related to the illness and help patients and their families navigate the complex emotions and decisions that arise during the course of the illness.

    3. Communication and shared decision-making: Palliative care involves open and honest communication between patients, families, and healthcare providers. The team helps patients and their families understand their condition, treatment options, and potential outcomes, empowering them to make informed decisions about their care.

    4. Coordination of care: Palliative care teams work in collaboration with the primary healthcare team to ensure seamless coordination of medical care. They assist in coordinating appointments, managing medications, and facilitating communication among various healthcare providers involved in the patient's care.

    5. Support for family caregivers: Palliative care recognizes the important role of family caregivers and provides support to them as well. This includes education, respite care, and assistance with practical and emotional aspects of caregiving.

    6. Advance care planning: Palliative care teams assist patients in documenting their preferences for medical care, including end-of-life decisions, through advance care planning. This helps ensure that patients' wishes are respected and followed.

    Palliative care can be provided in various settings, including hospitals, hospices, outpatient clinics, or even in the patient's own home. It is often provided alongside curative treatments and can continue into bereavement support for families after the patient's passing.

    It's important to note that palliative care is not the same as hospice care, which is a specific form of end-of-life care provided when a patient is no longer seeking curative treatments and has a life expectancy of six months or less. Palliative care, on the other hand, can be provided at any stage of a serious illness and is not dependent on life expectancy.

    Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life for patients and their families by addressing physical, emotional, and psychosocial needs. It provides comprehensive support and comfort to individuals facing serious illnesses, helping them navigate the complexities of their condition and enhance their overall well-being.

  • Which are the commonest cancers in India ?

    NCRP (‚ÄčNational Cancer Registry Programme, India) data of cancer incidence in India in 2022 of males & females.

    The estimated number of incident cases of cancer in India for the year 2022 was found to be 14,61,427 (crude rate:100.4 per 100,000). In India, one in nine people are likely to develop cancer in his/her lifetime. Lung and breast cancers were the leading sites of cancer in males and females, respectively. Among the childhood (0-14 yr) cancers, lymphoid leukaemia (boys: 29.2% and girls: 24.2%) was the leading site f/b brain tumour, Non-hodgkins's lymphoma, Bone tumour, Hodgkin's disease.

    Ref: Indian Journal of Medical Research156(4&5):598-607, Oct-Nov 2022

  • Are cancers "preventable" ?

    Cancer prevention involves taking proactive measures to reduce the risk of developing cancer. While not all cancers can be prevented, there are several lifestyle choices and behaviors that can help lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Here are some key strategies for cancer prevention:

    1. Avoid tobacco: Tobacco use, including smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, is one of the leading causes of cancer. It is linked to various types of cancer, including lung, oral, throat, and bladder cancer. Avoiding tobacco in any form and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke are crucial for cancer prevention.

    2. Eat a healthy diet: A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can contribute to overall health and reduce the risk of cancer. Aim for a diet that includes a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, limit processed and red meats, choose whole grains, and avoid sugary drinks and excessive consumption of alcohol.

    3. Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several types of cancer, including breast, colorectal, kidney, and pancreatic cancer. Maintain a healthy weight through a combination of regular physical activity and a well-balanced diet.

    4. Engage in regular physical activity: Regular exercise has numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of certain cancers. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week, along with strength training exercises at least twice a week.

    5. Protect yourself from the sun: Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun increases the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. Protect your skin by seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and applying sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on exposed skin.

    6. Practice safe sex and get vaccinated: Certain infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B and C viruses, can increase the risk of developing certain cancers. Practice safe sex by using condoms, get vaccinated against HPV and hepatitis B, and follow recommended guidelines for screening and treatment of these infections.

    7. Limit alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of several types of cancer, including breast, liver, colorectal, and throat cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit consumption to moderate levels (up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men).

    8. Get regular screenings and follow recommended guidelines: Regular screenings can help detect certain types of cancer at an early stage when they are more treatable. Follow the recommended guidelines for screenings such as mammograms, Pap smears, colonoscopies, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests based on age, gender, and individual risk factors.

    9. Be aware of occupational and environmental hazards: Exposure to certain chemicals, toxins, and radiation in the workplace or environment can increase the risk of cancer. Follow safety protocols, use protective equipment, and be aware of potential hazards in your surroundings.

    Remember that while these strategies can reduce the risk of developing cancer, they do not guarantee complete prevention. It's also important to maintain regular medical check-ups, discuss your individual risk factors with your healthcare provider, and be proactive in recognizing any potential signs or symptoms of cancer. Early detection and timely treatment can greatly improve outcomes.

  • Role of cancer screening ?

    Cancer screening plays a crucial role in detecting cancer at an early stage, even before symptoms appear. The primary goal of cancer screening is to identify cancer or pre-cancerous conditions in individuals who are asymptomatic, allowing for early intervention and treatment. Early detection through screening can significantly improve the chances of successful treatment and survival rates.

    Benefits of screening are:

    1. Early detection: Cancer screening tests are designed to detect tumors, in their early stages when they are typically smaller, localized, and more treatable- more likelihood of successful treatment, reduces the need for aggressive therapies, and improves overall patient outcomes.

    2. Identification of pre-cancerous conditions: Some screening tests can identify pre-cancerous conditions, such as abnormal cells or growths that have the potential to develop into cancer over time. Detecting and treating these pre-cancerous conditions can prevent the development of invasive cancer.

    3. Risk assessment and stratification: Cancer screening can help assess an individual's risk of developing certain types of cancer based on factors such as age, family history, lifestyle choices, and genetic predisposition. This information allows healthcare providers to recommend appropriate screening strategies and interventions tailored to the individual's level of risk.

    4. Population-level impact: Cancer screening programs, when implemented at a population level, have the potential to reduce the burden of cancer by detecting and treating cancers early. These programs often target specific age groups or individuals with known risk factors, helping to identify cancer cases that may otherwise go undetected until symptoms are present.

    5. Reduction in cancer mortality: Several studies have shown that regular screening for certain cancers, such as breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers, has led to a decrease in cancer-related deaths. By detecting cancer in its early stages, screening allows for timely treatment and improved survival rates.

    6. Improved treatment outcomes: Early detection through screening can lead to less invasive treatment options, reducing the need for extensive surgeries or aggressive therapies. In some cases, early-stage cancers may be treated with less toxicity and higher success rates, preserving the quality of life for individuals diagnosed with cancer.

    7. Follow-up and surveillance: For individuals who have had cancer and undergone treatment, regular surveillance through screenings is essential to monitor for recurrence or the development of new cancers. Post-treatment surveillance helps detect any signs of cancer early, allowing for prompt intervention and improved outcomes.

    It's important to note that while cancer screening can be beneficial, it also has limitations. False-positive results can occur, leading to unnecessary anxiety and follow-up tests. False-negative results are also possible, meaning that cancer may be missed on a screening test. Additionally, not all cancers have established screening methods, and the effectiveness of screening can vary depending on the type of cancer and individual factors.

  • Which are the "screenable" cancers ?
    1. Breast cancer: Mammography is the primary screening tool for breast cancer. It involves X-ray imaging of the breasts to detect abnormalities or suspicious masses. Additional imaging tests, such as ultrasound or MRI, may be recommended in certain cases.

    2. Cervical cancer: Pap smear (Pap test) is a common screening test for cervical cancer. It involves collecting cells from the cervix to check for any abnormal changes or the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a major risk factor for cervical cancer. HPV testing may be done in conjunction with or as a follow-up to the Pap smear.

    3. Colorectal cancer: Various screening methods are available for colorectal cancer, including:

      • Colonoscopy: This is considered the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening. It involves a visual examination of the entire colon and rectum using a flexible tube with a camera. It can detect precancerous polyps and early-stage cancers.

      • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT): This test detects small amounts of blood in the stool, which may indicate the presence of polyps or cancer. It can be done at home using a kit to collect a stool sample.

      • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT): Similar to FOBT, FIT detects blood in the stool, but it is more specific for human blood. It also requires a stool sample.

      • Stool DNA test: This test analyzes DNA mutations in stool samples to detect the presence of colorectal cancer or precancerous conditions. It may be an alternative for individuals who cannot undergo colonoscopy.

    4. Lung cancer: Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) is used for lung cancer screening in certain high-risk populations, typically individuals aged 55 to 80 with a significant smoking history. LDCT involves a series of X-ray images to detect any abnormalities or nodules in the lungs.

    5. Prostate cancer: Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test is commonly used for prostate cancer screening. Elevated levels of PSA may indicate the presence of prostate cancer, although further diagnostic tests, such as a biopsy, are usually needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Book An Appointment