Cancer Diagnosis and Cure - Earlier the Better

By Dr. Debashish Chaudhary in Surgical Oncology

Mar 20 , 2023 | 1 min read

Evolution and globalisation have many facets, not the least of them being lifestyle diseases that make up 7 of the world’s top 10 causes of death as per WHO’s Global Health Estimates. Among them, Cancer is one of the leading causes of healthy life, years lost and mortality.

Current medical evidence supports that around 30 to 50% of all cancers are attributable to modifiable risk factors, most of which are related to the environment and lifestyle. Thus, it can be easily agreed that cancer is a preventable disease to a great extent. Public health awareness is a small step that can bring a big difference.

Cancer produces an evolving series of cells which initially may not produce any symptoms. As the tumour burden increases, region-specific symptomatology starts appearing. Most tumours progress from early or localised stage to locally advanced and, finally, the metastatic stage. The type of cancer therapy will depend on the type, region, and stage of cancer.

The chances of achieving good disease control are best expected in early cancer stages. Unfortunately, in India, most tumours present at an advanced stage and thus, disease control rates are not very appealing. Community-level screening programs present an ideal solution for early detection.

However, not all cancers are amenable to mass screening, and skewed public health expenditure is a significant challenge for mass screening. Educating the masses about Cancer Awareness and the benefits of early detection thus remains the most practical solution.

Every treatment modality, like Surgery, Radiation or Chemotherapy, carries its own morbidity, which can be reduced with the help of early detection because there are higher chances that a single treatment modality be chosen. An early stage of cervical cancer may be treated with either surgery or radiation therapy.

Similarly, for many early-stage cancers like oesophagal, stomach cancer and colon cancer, standalone radical surgery would be enough. Single treatment modality also reduces the duration of treatment and increases the chances for early return to normalcy.

Early detection of cancer improves the chances of getting cured, the surgeries performed are less complex and have better cosmetic outcomes for visible sites such as the breast cancer. The last but the most desirable outcome of early detection is the reduced financial burden in a country like India, wherein 80% of the health expenditure is based on out-of-pocket for the masses. It, therefore, stands true in every aspect that prevention is better than cure.

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