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A recent study found an association between consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and an increased risk of prostate cancer, there was no explanation about how this could occur. This early finding is not strong evidence, particularly as there are no other significant studies showing the same thing. The omega-3 fatty acids referred to in the study, which was reported in the July 2013 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, include salmon, trout and fresh tuna, and in fish oil supplements. The results are interesting because the study did not identify whether people obtained their omega-3 from fish or supplements and the authors were not able to explain the mechanism or reason why there could be a link. We are told that omega-3s from fish are beneficial for heart health, so these results need to be investigated more to understand their implications for our diet. At this stage, we advise people eat a well-balanced diet with a variety of vegetables, fruit and whole grains, as well as some fish, chicken, lean meats, nuts, seeds and reduced fat dairy foods. We know that this type of a diet helps prevent cancer. There should be no need for people to take supplements if they eat a variety of whole-foods and limit processed foods. If you have concerns you should talk with your doctor.

Long-term effects of laser therapy, including the possibility of an increased risk of cancer, have not been studied. Some researchers have observed changes in atypical moles (dysplastic nevi) after laser hair removal. Therefore, they suggest caution in the use of cosmetic laser therapy for people with a personal or family history of skin cancer or atypical moles, until further research determines whether these changes may be malignant or not. Laser therapy uses non-ionising radiation in the form of a concentrated light source that produces a very fine laser beam. In the case of laser hair removal, the laser beam is used to kill hair follicles (cells where hair grows from), resulting in the loss of hair growth from those follicles. Laser therapy does not use the same ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths as those found in sunlight (i.e. UVA and UVB), which are known to damage the DNA in cells and cause skin cancer. Non-ionising radiation is also different to ionising radiation (e.g. nuclear radiation, X-rays), which is also known to cause cancer. In addition to hair removal, laser therapy is used for: other cosmetic (e.g. tattoo removal) and dental procedures; to treat varicose veins; for prostate, skin and eye surgery; and to remove kidney stones. It is also widely used to treat cancer, including skin cancer.

Although it is possible, it is extremely rare for a mother to pass cancer on to her baby during pregnancy. To date, there have only been around 17 suspected incidents reported, most commonly in patients with leukaemia or melanoma. A case in Japan in 2009 was the first to be hailed as proof that it can happen. In that case, a mother was diagnosed with leukaemia soon after she gave birth, and her baby daughter was diagnosed with lymphoma when she was 11 months old. Although two different types of cancer, the cancer cells of the mother and baby carried the identical mutated cancer gene. The baby hadn’t inherited the gene, meaning the cells must have come from the mother. The baby’s cancer cells had an additional mutation making them invisible to her immune system, allowing them to cross the placental barrier and survive without being attacked. But in the vast majority of cases where the cancer is diagnosed during pregnancy, which are uncommon to begin with, cancer cells can’t pass from mother to baby. Nor can cancer cells pass from a mother to baby through breast milk. Women who have been diagnosed with cancer are advised not to become pregnant, however, because chemotherapy and radiotherapy can harm an unborn baby.

There are about 16 packs of sugar in a 600ml bottle of regular soft drink, so regular consumption of soft drinks results in an abnormally high sugar intake. The sugar content of a 600ml bottle means you are consuming around 1000 unnecessary kilojoules. While the sugar itself does not directly increase your cancer risk, the excess kilojoules contribute to overweight and obesity, which are known risk factors for bowel, breast, pancreatic and other cancers. There have also been claims that chemicals in soft drinks can increase cancer risk. While some studies have detected very low levels of chemicals such as benzene and 4-methylimidazole (4-Mel) in certain soft drinks, there is no evidence they increase the risk of cancer at the low levels found in soft drinks. The chemicals have been found to be carcinogenic (cancer causing) in other types of exposures, but at far higher levels than present in food or drink. Good diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight are recognised ways to reduce your risk of cancer and other disease.

Many studies have been done or are underway into the effects of mobile phones on health, including the relationship between mobile phone use and the risk of brain tumours. So far the research has found that mobile phone users are not at any greater risk of brain cancer than people who don’t use mobile phones. However, the risk has only been assessed for short to medium-term mobile phone use (under 10 years). Long-term mobile phone use has yet to be fully evaluated and this can only occur with the passage of time. Mobile phones use radiofrequency electromagnetic energy (RFE). RFE is not known to damage DNA and cannot produce cancer-causing mutations, however it has been suggested that it may increase the rate at which cancer develops. There is concern that RFE produced by mobile phones may affect the brain because mobile phones are usually held close to the head. Among patients with brain cancer, there is some correlation between the side of their head on which they held their mobile phone and the location of brain tumours. Such results do not necessarily establish cause and effect, and are complicated by what is termed "recall bias". Studies of animals exposed to RFE fields found no evidence that RFE causes or promotes brain cancer.

There is no clear evidence that green tea can help to cure cancer. Green tea is made from the dried leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis, and contains chemicals known as polyphenols. These are antioxidants that may help to prevent DNA damage caused by free radicals, and this is why some people think that tea can help to prevent or cure cancer. Some laboratory studies have shown that tea polyphenols can stop cancer cells from growing; however, studies in humans show variable results. In 2009, the internationally respected Cochrane Collaboration reviewed all the clinical studies on the effect of green tea on cancer prevention or death from cancer. The results were conflicting – some showed that green tea could help prevent cancer, some showed that it had no effect and some showed that it increased the risk of some cancers. Subsequent reviews and analyses found similar results. These results are uncertain because there have not been enough studies, the studies that have been done don’t include enough people, they used different amounts of tea, and they may not have accounted for other lifestyle factors that can affect cancer. This means that, overall, the studies on green tea and cancer are inconclusive for all types of cancer, and more large-scale clinical trials need to be done before we can be sure whether green tea helps to prevent or cure cancer. Drinking green tea in moderate amounts is not associated with any significant harmful effects. However, evaluations by the International Agency for Research on Cancer determined that drinking any very hot beverage (above 65°C) is probably a cause of oesophageal cancer. In order to minimise risk, leave hot drinks to cool for about four minutes after boiling before drinking.

While it is true that some halogen and fluorescent light bulbs do emit UV radiation, these emissions are low especially when installed in ceiling fittings. UV emissions from all light bulbs and lamps decrease rapidly with distance.

There is no credible evidence of an association between eating red meat and breast cancer. However, eating red meat and in particular processed meat (cured with the addition of preservatives and/or other additives) does appear to be associated with a modest increased risk of colorectal (bowel) cancer.

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice commonly used in Indian cooking. It comes from a root or rhizome and its main ingredient is curcumin. Laboratory studies on cancer cells have found curcumin slows down their growth and some animal studies have also shown it to slow the growth and spread of cancers. Clinical trials are underway to find out if it can help humans as well, but as yet we do not have enough evidence of the effect in humans. One problem is that not much curcumin is absorbed into our body when we eat turmeric. As well, we know that it is safe to use in cooking in small amounts, but we don’t know much about the side-effects of consuming it in large amounts to treat or prevent cancer. More research is needed to establish the safety of turmeric when used in herbal remedies. As always, you should talk to your doctor about any herbs or supplements you are considering taking.

Most studies on shift work and cancer have focused on breast cancer. There is some evidence that people who have worked night shifts for 20 to 30 years or more are at a slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer. The results are consistent with animal studies that have shown that disrupting the circadian system, or the 24-hour body clock, can increase the risk of cancer. Being exposed to artificial light at night can alter sleep patterns, suppress melatonin production – which is thought to help prevent cancer – and affect genes involved in tumour development. However, the majority of studies that have found a link between cancer and shift work did not account for lifestyle choices that can affect a person’s cancer risk, for example how much alcohol they consume, whether they are overweight or obese or on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The studies that did account for these other factors found a weaker link. Furthermore, different studies used varying definitions of “shift work”. There have been some studies linking shift-work with bowel, prostate and womb cancers, but the evidence is inconclusive. The International Agency for Research into Cancer (IARC) has classified shift work that involves circadian disruption as category 2A. The evidence of a link between working night shift and cancer risk is accumulating. However, if the effect is real, it is likely to be a small increase in risk. It remains possible that this is caused by other factors like those mentioned earlier. This means that there is some evidence that shift-working could affect the risk of cancer, but that more research is needed to say for sure. IARC identified a need for more studies to examine the potential risk in different professions and for other cancers.

Some studies have found that burning incense indoors increase the levels of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which have been linked to cancer. This makes sense – burning any sort of organic material, whether tobacco leaves, coal or an incense stick – produces PAHs. But the mere presence of PAHs does not mean that people have a higher risk of cancer. It comes down to the dose. Does burning incense produce enough of these chemicals to actually affect a person’s cancer risk. The largest study so far, looking at incense use and cancer, tracked the health of 61,000 people in Singapore. Although the study claimed to show that people who used incense most heavily were almost twice as likely to develop cancer in their airways than those who did not, the results were weak. The differences between the two groups could have been down to chance, or the fact that people who use incense are far more likely to smoke cigarettes than those who did not. For the most part, the study’s results showed that incense use did not increase the risk of cancer and, even if it did, the rise in risk would be very small. Regardless, anyone wishing to avoid any potential risks could consider burning incense only in situations with good ventilation. Smoking remains the biggest cause of lung cancers and other cancer of the airways. Tobacco smoke contains loads of PAHs, as well as dozens of other cancer-causing chemicals. And smoking can also worsen the effects of other chemicals.

There is growing interest in the possibility that dogs, because of their incredible sense of smell, might be able to “smell” cancer. The hypothesis was first raised in 1989 when doctors described a case of a woman concerned about a mole that her dog would constantly sniff at and had tried to bite at what turned out to be a malignant melanoma. There have been several other reports since then of dogs detecting cancers by constantly sniffing or nudging an area of their owner’s body. Tumours produce volatile organic compounds, which are released into urine, exhaled breath and sweat. Even in minute quantities these compounds are thought to have a distinct odour, particularly in the early stages of cancer when cells are dividing. There have been only a few studies with small numbers of patients, but the results suggest dogs could be trained to detect these compounds. Studies over the past decade have shown trained dogs could identify the urine of patients with bladder cancer almost three times more often than would be expected by chance alone, detect lung cancer in exhaled breath samples with very high accuracy (in two separate studies) and identify ovarian and colorectal cancers by smelling breath samples. Scientists are also using chemical analysis and nanotechnology to try to identify cancer biomarkers in breath, sweat and urine that could be used in blood tests or other tests to detect cancer. If they can identify the chemical changes responsible for the odour the dogs are picking up, it may be possible to develop computerised screening instruments with the same sensitivity dogs have.

By surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a combination of all these in the earliest possible stage of the disease. All these methods are available in India at various Hospitals. Government hospitals provides all diagnostic and treatment facilities under one roof. The emphasis on cancer treatment should be on multimodal management. Are radiation treatments good for all kinds of cancer? No. Treatment depends on the type and location of the growth. Some cancers will not respond to radiation treatment but must be treated by surgery or with hormones and chemotherapy.

Radiation destroys dividing cells including cancer cells. Normal cells are also damaged. But now sophisticated machines are available which spare normal tissues and destroy cancer tissue with precision.

Wires or tubes containing radioactive material are inserted into the cancer growth or in the tissue surrounding it, and removed after treatment is concluded. Radio-active material in suitable containers may also be placed in contact with the growth as in cancer cervix. Now a days, endo-luminal RT is also available for cancer of tubular structures like bronchus.

Surgery is most effective in the early stages when cancer has not yet spread. Major advances in plastic and reconstructive surgery, and anesthesiology have ensured a very high degree of success.

Chemotherapy implies treatment with anti-cancer drugs and injections. Today we have a large number of highly effective drugs for cancer control.

At times only. Certain types of cancerous growth, which cannot be expected to be curable, may be controlled temporarily by CT/Hormones/RT. Sooner or later, however, these growths fail to respond to further treatment.

More than 80% of cancers today are completely curable if treated early. At times, however, cures have been obtained after the cancers have been present for a long time. The type of cancer and stage of cancer have an important bearing on its curability. Is it ever possible to state that a cancer has been completely cured? If so, how much time must pass before the "cure" is recognized? After a cancer patient has been treated and has remained free of recurrence of disease for a period of five years, the chances for re-appearance of the tumour are small. Occasionally cancer recurs ten or twenty years later. So, a life long follow up is a must for cancer patients to detect recurrence of disease as well as to detect other cancers.

Yes. Regardless of a patient's past medical history including the successful treatment of a previous cancer, he/she should be examined at regular intervals. Because of the tendency for cancer to reappear at the place of a previously existing growth or nearby, a patient should have a regular follow up as advised by the doctor. A new cancer may also appear at another part of the body.

No. A vaccine is of value only against a disease due to a germ. Cancer is not caused by a germ; therefore, serums are of no value in its treatment.

No. A vaccine is of value only against a disease due to a germ. Cancer is not caused by a germ, therefore serums are of no value in its treatment, but researches are ongoing to find tumour vaccines for different cancers.

No. Paste or salve can not penetrate the tissues deep enough to destroy deep seated cancer cells.

Chemotherapy causes temporary side effects like nausea, vomiting, loss of hair and bone marrow suppression. Side effects of chemotherapy vary with drug schedule used.

There is evidence today to indicate that treatment with certain hormones may prolong life, and alleviate pain and suffering in certain breast and prostate cancers. Hormones are also useful as adjuvant after definitive treatment.

Immunotherapy is a new development based on the theory that the human body can be taught to defend itself against diseases including cancer. Immunotherapy is being tried in cancers like melanoma, renal cell carcinoma etc.

There is no single modality of treatment, which can achieve cure. Emphasis is on multimodal treatment e.g. combination of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone treatment. Now gene therapy & immunotherapy are upcoming modes of treatment but they are in experimental stage.

A lot of progress has been made in cancer research. We have understood cancer behavior better. Diagnostic facilities have improved. Operative methods and radiation techniques have also improved. Newer chemotherapy drugs have been launched. Future is not far off when we will have gene therapy and vaccines for cancer treatment.

More than 80% of the patients treated adequately in the early stages can be cured. Your chances of recovery are excellent, if you report for treatment very early after the cancer has developed.

Cancer in Men

There are no fundamental differences in cancers in men and women. Most important thing is that common male cancers (lung and oral) are preventable because they are caused by tobacco. Female cancers (breast, cervix) can be detected early and cured.

Cancer of the mouth, throat, gullet, stomach, rectum, larynx, lung, skin and brain are all more common in men than in women. Gallbladder and thyroid cancers are more frequent in women.

Smoking and tobacco chewing are known to cause cancer of the mouth, throat, lungs etc. Therefore, it is best to play safe. If you smoke or chew tobacco, make every effort to stop. Stop smoking and tobacco chewing and prevent cancer !

No. There is no known relationship between cancer and sexual activity on the part of the male or female. However women who have multiple sexual partners run a greater risk of getting cervix cancer.

Yes. Cancer of the prostate is one of the most common forms of cancer in older men in the USA. Men should be on guard against this form of cancer especially as they approach 60. A thorough physical examination, including a rectal examination, blood test (PSA) and TRUS are the only way to discover this hidden cancer early enough for cure.

Cancer in Women:

No. The misconception that cancer is primarily a woman's disease is due to the frequency of cancer of the breast and cancer of the reproductive organs in women, in comparison with the more varied occurrence of cancer in men.

Reports from death certificates show that above the age of 40, the cancer death rate is higher among single women than among married women of the same ages. Single women have higher death rates from cancer of the breast and married women have more cancer of the cervix. Physicians believe that having the first child around the age of 20 is preventive against cancer of the breast. Multiple sexual partners increase the risk of cancer of the cervix.

Yes, a very grave danger. Time is the most important factor in the control of cancer and waiting to "see what happens" may permit a curable cancer to become incurable. This may allow it to spread to other parts of the body and make the treatment more difficult

No. Only a small percentage of lumps are cancerous. Careful physical examination and mammography can differentiate benign from malignant lump. Biopsy & FNAC of lump by a competent pathologist can clinch the diagnosis.

Every woman above the age of 40 should have her breasts examined annually by a physician. Every woman after the age of 35 years should be taught how to examine her own breasts (monthly after her periods). Screening mammography should be encouraged at the age of 40 years onward and then every 2 yearly. Soon we will have genetic markers to detect high risk group of women who are likely to develop breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

Self examination of the breast should be done in the following ways after periods are over. Post menopausal women should examine their breasts every month.

  • Sit or stand in front of a mirror, with your arms relaxed at your sides, and examine your breasts carefully for any changes in size and shape. Look for any puckering or dimpling of the skin, and for any discharge or change in the nipples. Compare one breast with the other.
  • Raise both your arms over your head, and look for exactly the same changes. See if there is any change since you last examined your breasts.
  • You should feel for a lump or thickening in the breast tissues. Lie down on your bed, or on the floor. Put a pillow or a bath towel under your left shoulder, and place your left hand under your head. With the fingers of your right hand held together flat, press gently but firmly with small circular motions to feel the inner, upper quarter of your left breast, starting at your breast bone and going outward toward the nipple line. Also feel the areas around the nipple.
  • With the same gentle pressure next feel the lower, inner parts of your breast.
  • Now bring your left arm down to your side, and still using the flat part of your fingers, feel under your armpit.
  • Use the same gentle pressure to feel the upper, outer quarter of your breast from the nipple line to where your arm is resting.
  • And finally, feel the lower, outer section of your breast, proceeding from the outer part to the nipple.

Have all unnatural vaginal discharges investigated. Up to the age of thirty-five have an annual examination by Gynecologist. Bleeding after the age of 50 yrs. (after menopause) calls for a physician's examination at once. Avoid multiple sex partners. Cervix cancer can be prevented by screening.

Fibroid tumours only very rarely undergo malignant change.

Cancer in Children

No age is free from cancer. Certain forms of cancer, especially of the eyes and blood are found in young children.

The answer is no. In many families where a parent had cancer, the disease does not appear in the children. Again, a person whose family has no record of cancer may develop it. A tendency to develop breast cancer however runs in families. Even colon cancers are known to be families.

The rate of growth at any age depends upon the type of cancer, though cancer does grow faster at younger ages.

The cure for cancer has little relationship with age. It depends upon the extent of growth at the time it is detected, the adequacy of the treatment given, as well as the type of cancer detected.

Cancer and You:

Cancer deaths can be reduced by following means:

  • Cancer is preventable by living a simple life like no tobacco chewing or smoking, vegetarian high roughage low fat diet, no alcohol and use of fresh fruits & fresh vegetables. Half of the cancers can be prevented by changing our own life styles.
  • Early detection by screening before symptoms appear.
  • Early detection in symptomatic patients. Treat them early with multimodal treatment.
  • Provide good care under one roof with all ultramodern gadgetry. Even if it is advanced disease, try to improve quality of life. "Add life to years in advanced cases".

It often does. It depends upon the type of cancer you have and how much must be done to treat it. Many hospitals provide free treatment to those who cannot afford to pay.

For the following reasons, among others :

  • Few quacks are medically trained; therefore, they have no fundamental knowledge about cancer.
  • They cause the patient to lose valuable time that should be used to obtain correct treatment.
  • The pastes and "medicines" used by quacks have no value in curing cancer.
  • The quack takes the patient's money under false pretenses, thus depriving him of the means for obtaining competent treatment in time to enable him/her to be cured.
  • How can I tell a quack from a reputable physician?
  • If a person advertise a cure, guarantees a cure, or employs a method of diagnosis or treatment not generally accepted or endorsed by the medical profession, may be classed as a quack. No reputed ethical physician will do any of these things.