National Cancer Awareness Day
The National Cancer Control Programme was launched in 1975 and 10 years later the emphasis was changed to early detection and prevention in 1984-85. Around the same time the National Cancer registry program was started to have the best estimate of types and stages of cancer through hospital based cancer registries and later population based registries.
7th November has been designated as the National Cancer Day and the intent is to spread awareness about preventable cancers, promote early detection and make people understand & take appropriate treatment.
The preventable cancers include–
Tobacco related cancers of mouth, larynx, cheek, lungs and food pipe.b)Virus related cancers e.g cancer cervix in women that can be prevented by vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus(HPV) 6 months before having either marriage or first intercourse; Liver Cancer can be prevented by vaccination against Hepatitis B virus and by reducing alcohol intake.
Early detection tests that have made a positive change in survival of cancers include-
a) PAP smear for all women 10 years after becoming sexually active and at specified intervals depending upon the test reports; b) Mammography for breast can can detect either pre cancer or frank cancers as small as 2-5 mm which are curable; c) Colonoscopy after the age of 50 years every year for persons with family history of colon cancer and once in 3 years for general population;
d) Low dose CT scan of chest for persons who have history of 10 pack years of smoking.
The symptoms to watch out are
a) Cough lasting more than 3 weeks,
b) painless swelling in any part of the body that is growing in size;
c) increase in size or itching over a pre-existing mole;
d) painless bleeding from mouth, with cough or vomiting, while passing urine or stool, excessive menstrual bleeding or bleeding after intercourse; easy bruisability; e) weight loss of >10% in 6 months;
f)Fever of unknown origin that does not subside over 4-6 weeks.
Cancer is a group of diseases affecting different body parts and each site has a different treatment. It may mimic other diseases, hence an awareness about this great masquerader is the best way to get over this spectrum of diseases.