Articles on cervical cancer

5 Tips to Prevent Cervical Cancer

Dr. Manpreet Singh Bindra, Oncologist
Persistent infection with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a common way of developing cervical cancer, with young women being the most susceptible to infections with the virus. To reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer: 1. Reduce your chances of getting infected with the virus: Young girls and women who engage in sexual activity with multiple partners should use condoms. In case of repeated vaginal infections, visit your healthcare professional for screening.2. Get a Pap test done every 3 years: Pap tests simply involve swabbing the cervix with a speculum to a sample then looking at the cells in the sample under a microscope to check for abnormal changes. Cervical cancer is one of those cancers that can be cured so regular pap testing is VERY important.3. Quit smoking: The nicotine and other components found in cigarettes are able to pass through your blood stream and can become deposited in the cervix where they can alter the growth of cervical cells. Smoking can also suppress your immune system making it more susceptible to HPV infections. You can dramatically reduce your risk of smoking if you give it up.4. Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet is one that is rich in unrefined food (white foods, processed meat, high-sugar biscuits and confectionary), fruits and vegetables. A diet consisting of whole foods provides a variety of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants that work together to nourish your cells and keep them health.5. Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of insulin resistance, which may lead to type II diabetes and increase the risk of developing cancer. Women who have a waist circumference over 35 inches and men with a waist circumference over 40 inches are considered high-risk for a variety of diseases, including cancers. Check your waist circumference and lose weight if you need to by eating a healthy diet and performing moderate-high intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week.

Cervical Cancer Facts That Women Must Know!

Dr. Sandeep Nayak, Surgical Oncologist
We generally shy away from discussing anything related to sexual practices and menstrual hygiene due to our personal and social inhibitions. As these issues are considered as tabooed in developing countries like India, it is quite a task to educate people, especially women about cervical cancer which results mainly from undesirable sexual habits and poor menstrual hygiene.  Being one of the easily preventable as well as curable cancers, creating awareness about the disease has become the need of the hour. This article sheds light on cervical cancer, its causes, early detection and prevention.What is cervical cancer? Who is prone to it?It’s an uncontrolled, unwanted growth of cervical cells. Cervix is a narrow lower part of the uterus or womb. It connects the uterus with vagina. Women in the age group of 30 to 50 are most prone to this disorder.What are cervical cancer symptoms and signs?Bleeding post sexual intercourseBleeding in between menses or after menopauseExcessive white dischargeWhat causes cervical cancer?The human papillomavirus (HPV) has been identified as the major contributing factor to cervical cancer. It might get transmitted sexually.Early age at the time of the first sexual intercourseMultiple sexual partnersHistory of sexually transmitted diseasesFirst pregnancy at an early ageFour or more pregnanciesPoor menstrual and genital hygieneHow can it be detected?Pap smear test is an easy way to detect abnormal cells in the cervix. Every woman should take a Pap smear test once in two years.How to prevent cervical cancer?The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to have the HPV vaccine at the age of 12 or 13. The vaccine can be taken upto the age of 35. Women should have a regular Pap tests done once they turn 21 or 2 years after the first sexual intercourse. Moreover, they should maintain better vaginal and menstrual hygiene.With early detection and prevention techniques at their disposal, protecting themselves against cervical cancer is pretty much in women’s hands. So ladies, make the best use of available practices and facilities and safeguard yourself and every important woman in your life.

Cervical Cancer Is Preventable! And Here Is What You Need To Know!

Dr. Suman Singh, Gynecologist/Obstetrician
What is Cervical Cancer?Cervical Cancer is cancer of the "Cervix", also known as the "mouth of the uterus".In India, it is the 2nd most common cancer in women. This cancer is usually diagnosed too late, in often incurable stages because it shows no symptoms till its too late.The silent killer.Did you know? In India …About 122,844  new cervical cancer cases are diagnosed annually in India Cervical cancer ranks as the 2nd most common cause of female cancer in IndiaAbout 67,477 new cervical cancer deaths occur annually in IndiaCervical cancer kills  One Women/8 Minutes  & is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in women in IndiaHow come you don't hear of it?Because no one likes to talk about it. It is embarrassing,painful and commonly misunderstood. Which is why we need to arm ourselves with the knowledge. It is the first step in learning how to protect yourself and the women you care for.How does one get Cervical Cancer?Cervical cancer is caused by a highly contagious virus called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) when it infects the cervix. The virus is very common and is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact of the genital area. In fact, it has been shown that this viral infection is so common that 80% of all women would have had this infection at least once in their lifetimes by the time they are 50 years old. This is irrespective of race, personal hygiene,diet, education level, personal habits etc. Cervical Cancer is not hereditary.Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Causes:Who is likely to get Cervical Cancer?Every normal, sexually active woman is at risk for cervical cancer. It affects women at the prime of their lives when they are indispensable for their families.The risk for HPV infection that eventually leads to cervical cancer begins in adolescence and continues into adulthood. But even though it is the woman who gets cervical cancer, the disease affects her whole family if she loses her health or in many cases, her life. Imagine losing a mom, wife,sister in the prime of her life……...Can Cervical Cancer be prevented?Now it can!The only way to prevent Cervical Cancer before it can even happen is to get vaccinated.How does the vaccine work?Vaccination works by getting your body to produce antibodies against the HPV virus.These antibodies protect your body from an HPV infection by fighting the virus when it tries to attack the cervix. Since HPV infection is the only cause of Cervical Cancer,vaccination against the virus protects against Cervical Cancer.Who should take the vaccine and when?Ideally, the vaccine should be taken as early as possible after the age of 9 years but girls and women of any age up to 45 can benefit from this vaccine. Expectant mothers should not take the vaccine during their pregnancy. Talk to a doctor for advice.What is vaccine and how is the dose schedule?There are two  vaccines   one is  HPV2 (16,18 )  and HPV4 (6,11,16,18 ).HP4 (6,11,16,18 ) prevent Cervical ,Vulvar and Vaginal Cancer and Ano-Genital Warts. HPV4  vaccine is  safe during lactation.Vaccine is given in three doses as follows:  2 months and  6 months.(0,2,6 month).In special cases (ex: impending marriage or travel, planning a pregnancy soon etc.), the doctor can "abbreviate" the schedule to 0,1and 4 months.How soon will the protection work?The full protection comes into effect usually within a month of the last dose. This varies from individual to individual, depending on their own body's immune system. It is important to complete the schedule.How long will the protection last?This is not a relatively new vaccine and has been around for general use since 2006 and is now used in 135  countries and 178 Million doses administered  world wide. It has been tested for a lot longer through clinical trials world wide. So far the data has shown that vaccinated women have been significantly protected from the disease since they got the vaccine ( 10 yrs according to published data).The WHO, CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention)  and various organizations  do not recommend  booster  dose . There is a good  life-long protection as well.  The WHO has recommended to governments and the Immunization Committee of the IAP has in the meanwhile recommended to individuals – If you can afford it, take it.What about side effects?The vaccine has been studied and is generally safe and well tolerated. Like many vaccines, pain at the site of the injection is not uncommon. Talk to a doctor for full details or any other questions on side effects. Cervical Cancer is a serious and life threatening disease.Where can I get more information?The best source of medical information is a qualified and well informed doctor,preferably a specialist. A Gynecologist (or a Pediatrician for your daughter older than 9 yrs) is the person you should talk to. Half knowledge, hearsay and articles / opinions by biased or inexpert opinion leaders can mislead you. Please consult a doctor.

Cervical Cancer-Causes and Testing for Diagnosis

Dr. Sonica Chugh, Gynecologist/Obstetrician
What causes cervical Cancer?Genital Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a very common virus in both men and women that can lead to the development of genital warts, abnormal cervical cells or cervical cancer.This virus can cause normal cells on your cervix to turn abnormal. Over many years, abnormal cells can turn into cancer if they are not found and treated by your doctor. It can take 10 to 15 years (or more) for cells to change from normal to abnormal, and then into cancer. Abnormal cells are sometimes called ‘pre cancer ‘ because they are not normal, but they are not yet cancer.You cannot see or feel HPV or these cell changes on your cervix. Screening tests help us to look for these changes or for abnormal cellsHow is HPV spread?HPV is transmitted during genital skin to-skin sexual contact. This includes vaginal or anal sex and possibly oral sex.A person can get HPV even if years have passed since he or she had sex. They will never know it because HPV usually has no signs and symptoms.In most cases, HPV goes away within two years, without causing any health problems. It is thought that the immune system  fights off HPV infection naturallyWhat screening tests exist for HPV- related diseases?Cervical Cancer: Cervical cancer can be detected with routine Cervical cancer screening (Pap test) and follow-up of abnormal results. The Pap test can find abnormal cells on the cervix so that they can be removed before cancer develops.    Abnormal cells often become normal over time, but can sometimes turn into cancer. These cells can usually be treated, depending on their severity and on the woman’s age, past medical history, and other test results.An HPV DNA test, which can find certain HPV types on a woman’s cervix, may also be used with a Pap test in certain cases (called co-testing). The HPV-DNA test is done to determine if you are infected with one of the high-risk types or if your doctor finds certain type of abnormal Pap test result.Even women who were vaccinated when they were younger need regular cervical cancer screening because the vaccines do not protect against all cervical cancer strains.Is there a treatment for HPV or related problems?HPV vaccination could prevent most cancers and other diseases caused by HPV. There is no treatment for the virus itself, but there are treatments for the problems that HPV can cause:Visible genital warts may remain the same, grow more in number, or go away on their own. The warts can be treated when they appear.Abnormal cervical cells (found on a Pap test) often become normal over time, but they can sometimes turn into cancer. If they remain abnormal, these cells can usually be treated to prevent cervical cancer from developing. This may depend on the severity of the cell changes, the woman’s age , past medical history, and other test results. It is critical to follow up with testing and treatment, as recommended by a doctor.Post detection of ovarian cancer the doctors , depending on your cancer stage can recommend the treatment more- surgery, medical treatment, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Cervical Treatment Diagnosis, Tests and Treatment

Dr. Sonica Chugh, Gynecologist/Obstetrician
Cervical Cancer is most treatable when it is diagnosed and treated early. Problems found can usually be treated, depending on their severity and on the woman’s age, past medical history, and other test results. Most women who get routine cervical cancer screening and follow up as told by their provider can find problems before cancer even develops. Prevention is always better than treatment.Other HPV cancers are also more treatable when diagnosed and treated early. Although there is no routine screening test for these cancers, you should visit your doctor regularly for checkups.Your doctor might recommend the HPV test if:Your Pap test was abnormal, showing atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS)You’re age 30 or olderThe HPV test is available only for women; no HPV test yet exists to detect the virus in men. However, men can be infected with HPV and pass the virus along to their sex partners.What is a HPV Test?The HPV test is a screening test for cervical cancer, but the test doesn’t tell you whether you have cancer. Instead, the test detects the presence of HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer, in your system. Certain types of HPV — including types 16 and 18 — increase your cervical cancer risk.Knowing whether you have a type of HPV that puts you at high risk of cervical cancer means that you and your doctor can better decide on the next steps in your health care. Those steps might include follow-up monitoring, further testing, or treatment of abnormal or precancerous cells.Pap- HPV Test:HPV spreads through sexual contact and is very common in young women, so, frequently, the test results will be positive. However, HPV infections often clear on their own within a year or two. Cervical changes that lead to cancer take several years — often 10 years or more — to develop. For these reasons, you might follow a course of watchful waiting instead of undergoing treatment for cervical changes resulting from an HPV infection.A combination Pap-HPV test is performed in your doctor’s office and takes only a few minutes. You’ll lie on your back on an exam table with your knees bent, your doctor will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum holds the walls of the vagina apart and a flat scraping device called a spatula or a soft brush is used to take samples of your cervical cells. This doesn’t hurt, and you may not even feel the sample being taken.Results of your HPV test are given as positive or negative Positive HPV test:A positive test result means that you have a type of high-risk HPV that’s linked to cervical cancer. It doesn’t mean that you have cervical cancer now, but it’s a warning sign that cervical cancer could develop in the future. Your doctor will probably recommend a follow-up test in a year to see if the infection has cleared or to check for signs of cervical cancer.Negative HPV test: A negative test result means that you don’t have any of the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.Depending on your test results, your doctor may recommend one of the following as a next step:Normal monitoring:If you’re over age 30, your HPV test is negative and your Pap test normal, you’ll follow the generally recommended schedule for repeating both tests in five years.Colposcopy: In this follow-up procedure, your doctor uses a special magnifying lens (colposcope) to more closely examine your cervix.Biopsy:In this procedure, sometimes done in conjunction with colposcopy, your doctor takes a sample of cervical cells (biopsy) to be examined more closely under a microscope.Removal of abnormal cervical cells:To prevent abnormal cells from developing into cancerous cells, your doctor may suggest a procedure to remove the areas of tissue that contain the abnormal cells.Seeing a specialist: If your Pap test or HPV test results are abnormal, your health care provider will probably refer you to a gynaecologist for a colposcopic exam. If test results show that you might have cancer, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating cancers of the female genital tract (gynecologic oncologist) for treatment

10 Symptoms of Cancer Which Nobody Should Ignore

Dr. Sandeep Nayak, Surgical Oncologist
Cancer is an unwanted growth of cells that destroys the healthy environment of the body. The fear associated with it is not because of the disease itself, but, because of the delayed diagnosis due to lack of clear symptoms. Here are a list of commonly ignored symptoms which could be warning signs of cancer. Cancers are PAINLESS when they start and so they get ignored by the patient and doctors alike. Anemia: Tiredness in cancer is usually due anemia (lack of blood) and deficiency of nutrition. The cancer eats up most of nutrients in its race to grow quickly. Also there bleeding from cancer tissue that makes one anemic.Blood while passing stool: very often this is due to piles or similar causes. However, cancer of colon and rectum also causes this. When anyone has blood in stool, it is advisable to do colonoscopy to look inside of colon. Cancer of colon can cause change in bowel habit (like alternating constipation and diarrhea)Blood in urine: This always require further tests.  Cancer of kidney or urinary bladder or prostate (among men) can cause blood in urine. The bad part is this bleeding can be infrequent. This infrequency makes patients ignore this symptom. Even one episode of blood in urine needs through examination.Bleeding in between periods (women): Any bleeding that does not follow the usual pattern of menstrual period is a warning sign. Cancer of uterus or cervix can present with this kind of symptoms. Patients with cervical cancer also have bleeding after having sexual intercourse. A patch or wound inside mouth: Oral or mouth cancers are common in India. These cancers start as a patch or wound and progress over months. If diagnosed early they can be treated effectively. Lump or swelling: Cancers of breast and limb begin as painless lumps or swellings and progress over months. Any newly appearing lumps or swellings should be completely investigated. Loss of weight without trying: A sudden weight loss when you are not dieting needs investigations. As cancer consumes most of the nutrition that you take, you tend to loose wt. Loss of appetite and bloating food: this could be because of obstruction to bowel or because of a cancer secreting its toxic substances. Thorough examination is needed to reach a diagnosis. Lymph node enlargement: Lymph nodes are present everywhere in the body and function as filters. Most of the times they enlarge due to infections. The cancer cells also get filtered in this nodes and are trapped. They grow in these nodes and the nodes enlarge as a result of this growth. Trouble swallowing or vomiting after taking food are both warning signs of a cancers in the digestive tract. These need to be evaluated with endoscopic tests to identify the cause. Some patients have only persistent heart-burns which is misdiagnosed as gastritis and treated only for months before correct diagnosis reveals itself. Pain is the last feature of cancer. Do not wait for it.

Gynaecological Cancer: Do Not Ignore the Early Signs!

Dr. Sujoy Dasgupta, Gynecologist/Obstetrician
Today is the world cancer day and the theme of this year is "we can, I can." Yes we all can battle the cancer. But the irony is that majority of women ignore early signs and symptoms of cancer and do not consult doctors in time. Some of these cancers are actually preventable if proper action is taken.Ovarian cancer What will you do if you feel gaseous distension (gas, bloating), acidity, constipation, change in bowel habit, decreased appetite, feeling of full stomach, weight loss and abdominal swelling? majority of the women ignore these symptoms and take antacids before it is too late. But these are often symptoms of early ovarian cancer and thus if you ignore these symptoms, you are harming yourself. Ovarian cancer is difficult to treat if detected at a late stage. But at an early stage, it is curable. So, don't ignore these symptoms.Who are the women at risk of ovarian cancer - women who are not having a baby, who themselves or have close relatives (sister/ mother/ daughter) with a history of cancer in breast/ ovary/ bowel/ uterus etc. But some women are at a lower risk like those using oral contraceptive pills- ocp (the birth control pills can reduce the risk by 50%) and those who have had tubal ligation (permanent family planning methods).If you have such risk factors, you must not avoid any such above mentioned symptoms. Rather you should consult gynecologist early. Ovarian cancer can be detected by ultrasound, ct scan, some blood tests (ca 125) and in some cases biopsy may be needed. And remember, majority of the ovarian diseases are not cancer but you must be sure that it's not cancer causing your problem.If ovarian cancer is diagnosed, the treatment is surgery (to be done by expert personnels) and most of the women need chemotherapy. Ovarian cancer is common in elderly women but it can affect younger women also. So, all the women should take care of the above mentioned symptoms.Cancer of cervixCervix is the mouth of the uterus. In our country, this is the commonest cancer affecting women whereas it is uncommon in the western countries too. The irony is that women die of this disease whereas it is totally preventable.It is caused by a virus (human papilloma virus- hpv) that is sexually transmitted (so it affects sexually active women). But it has a peculiar feature that actually occurs, before cancer, called precancerous stage - when the cells of cervix show some changes that we can detect and treat. So, if women regularly consult a doctor (when they do not have problems), we can check if she is at risk of cervical cancer or not, by some simple tests (pap smear, hpv testing etc). If such changes are found (that is not cancer) we can treat her so that she does not develop cancer. These methods of detection, before disease occurs or before an individual feels that she is having disease, is called 'screening'.Another method of preventing, is vaccination of hpv, that should be given to the adolescent girls before they become sexually active. It can be given too older women (who are sexually active), although the response is somehow lower than if given at an early age. But vaccination is not alternative to screening. So, both screening and vaccination should be done to prevent this cancer.Even if detected at an early stage, it is totally curable. So, women should not ignore symptoms of excessive vaginal discharge (remember, all excessive discharges are not due to cancer), abnormal or heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding occuring unpredictably in between menstruation, bleeding after intercourse etc.It is treated by surgery and some cases may need radiation also.Cancer of uterusCancer of uterus is common after 50 years of age (although can occur in early years also). It is the commonest gynecological cancer in the western world. It mainly occurs in women who are obese (excessive weight), having diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure), not having any baby, who are having personal or family history of cancer in uterus/ breast/ ovary/ bowel.It can be prevented by taking ocp (birth control pils) and controlling weight. In many cases, it is also preceeded by some precancerous changes (hyperplasia) that can be detected by ultrasonography and if needed small biopsy procedure.The common symptoms are abnormal heavy bleeding and bleeding after attaining menopause (after totall stoppage of menses). So, any abnormal menstrual bleeding must be properly investigated.It is usually well curable if treated early - by surgery and in few cases, may need radiation, chemo or hormone therapy.Cancer of vulvaThe external genitalia of female is known as vulva. Cancer in vulva is relatively uncommon but still it can happen, especially those who are having diabetes, are HIV positive or have poor hygiene.Never ignore any symptoms of excessive itching in your private parts. It may be the early symptom of vulval cancer. Some cases, patient may have ulcer or tumour or bleeding.It can be detected easily on examination by a doctor and then biopsy. It is treated well with surgery and some cases, radiation may be needed.Summary: Majority of the gynaecological cancers are preventable. They can be diagnosed early if women consult doctor at an early stage. Majority of them respond to treatment.

HPV Vaccination- Protection Against Cervical Cancer

Dr. Sonica Chugh, Gynecologist/Obstetrician
You’ve probably heard that a HPV vaccine can protect women against cervical cancer. In fact, the vaccine may be most effective when given to girls and young women. However the strains against which the HPV vaccine provides protection is limited. The vaccine does provide cover against the most prevalent strains.What Are the Benefits of the HPV Vaccine?The main benefit of the vaccine is protection from cervical cancer.Two HPV vaccines are currently on the market: Gardasil and Cervarix. In 2006, the FDA licensed Gardasil, the first cervical cancer vaccine. In 2007 Cervarix was approved. However, they don’t protect against all types of cancer-causing HPV. Vaccines protect against these four types of HPV:HPV 6HPV 11HPV 16HPV 18These types are responsible for 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts.What parents should know about the HPV or Cervical Cancer VaccineDoes your daughter need the HPV vaccine to help protect against cervical cancer?Pap screening in girls and young women should be recommended as follows:Within 3 years of becoming sexually active.By age 21.Most girls taking the vaccine will probably need fewer Pap smears taken at longer intervals over their lifetimes.Has your daughter already been infected with HPV virus ?If so, receiving the vaccine won’t prevent disease from that particular type. However, the HPV vaccine will protect against infection from the other HPV strains included in the shot.Why Should Girls Receive the HPV Vaccine?Full benefit of the HPV vaccine occurs only if you receive it before you’re infected with any of the HPV strains included in the vaccine. That’s why , vaccinating girls between ages 11 and 12 is recommended .Ideally, this is before they become sexually active. The HPV vaccine can also be given to girls as young as 9 and to girls from age 13 to 26 who have not received it earlier.You may question whether 11 or 12 is too early to vaccinate, the vaccine has been shown to be more effective in immunizing against HPV when it is given to younger girls who have never been infected with the dangerous HPV strains.

On World Cancer Day 2016: Let Us Understand Cancer Better!

Dr. Sahil Chheda, Dentist
World Cancer Day is celebrated annually on 4th of February to deepen our understanding of this killer disease. This year the campaign focuses on Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration that is to reduce stigma and dispel myths about cancer with the tagline, "Debunk the myths".There has been enough research to validate that food acts as the most promising ammunition to fight the battle against cancer. Keeping in with this year's campaign we bring to you six common queries.1) What is the most common cause of cancer?Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells. There are around 100 types of cancer. The most common types of cancer are - Men: Lung, esophagus, stomach, oral and pharyngeal cancers. Women: Cervix and breast cancers.Cancer has many possible causes, the prominent ones being -Genetics: Certain cancers run in families. For example, certain mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes greatly increase a person's risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.Smoking: Cigarette smoking accounts for around 30% of all cancer deaths. It is linked with increased risk of these cancers - lungs, larynx, oral cavity, nose and sinuses, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, bladder, ovary, colon, rectum and acute myeloid leukemia. Chewing of tobacco, a carcinogen, is linked to dental caries, gingivitis, oral leukoplakia, and oral cancer.Diet and Lifestyle: Research shows that a poor diet and not having an active lifestyle are the key factors that can increase a person's risk of developing cancer.Three things to keep in mind in order to stay cancer free:- Get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout your life.- Be physically active on a regular basis.- Make healthy food choices with a focus on plant-based foods.2) What are the foods that up the risk of developing cancer?Some cancers like that of the stomach have a more direct relationship with food. Foods which should be consumed in moderation to avoid the incidence of cancer are -Processed meats such as bacon, sausages, lunch meats and hot dogs.Choose fish, poultry, or beans instead of red meat (beef, pork, and lamb).If you eat red meat, choose lean cuts and eat smaller portions.Prepare meat, poultry, and fish by baking, broiling, or poaching rather than by frying or charbroiling.3) What are the preventive foods that guard against cancer?In accordance with the most common types of cancers that our country suffers from, the following foods can help:Oral Cancer: A diet rich in green and yellow vegetables and proper oral hygiene has been shown to offer protection against oral cancer.Breast Cancer: Reduction of high calorie foods, increased intake of fruits and vegetables and regular physical activity is preventive.Lung Cancer: Avoid tobacco and stay free from environmental pollutants. Increase intake of vegetables, fruits and beta carotene.Stomach Cancer: Diets high in fruits and vegetables particularly raw vegetables, citrus fruits, and possibly allium vegetables (onions, leeks, garlic etc.), foods with high levels of carotenoid, high vitamin C intake and consumption of green tea helps prevent stomach cancers.4) What foods help in healing cancer and how?Good nutrition is a key to good health. Foods which are rich in Vitamin C, Beta-carotene and Lycopene are known to protect DNA from damages. Research proves that these foods help in healing cancer -Apple: Apple contains quercetin, epicatechin, anthocyanins and triterpenoids which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help to lower the risk of cancer specifically Colorectal cancers. The apple peel is the most nutritious as the majority of Quercetin (80%) is found in it. Other cancers in which apples are known to heal are lungs, breast and stomach.Blueberries: Blueberries have great antioxidant power, due to the presence of many phytochemicals and flavonoids like Anthocyanins, Ellagic acid and Urolithin. These are known to decrease free radical damage to DNA that leads to cancer. They also decrease the growth and stimulate self-destruction of mouth, breast, colon and prostate cancer cells.Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Green Cabbage, Cauliflower, White Turnip, Kale, Green Collard: The Glucosinolates present in them is converted into isothiocyanates and indoles on consumption, which decreases inflammation, one of the risk factors of cancer. Beta-carotene promotes cell communication that helps control abnormal cell growth.Cherries: Both sweet and tart cherries are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. The dark red color comes from anthocyanins, which are antioxidants.Cranberries: They are high on dietary fiber and vitamin C. They're very high in antioxidant power, most of which comes from phytochemicals like anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins and flavonols, ursolic acid, benzoic acid and hydroxycinnamic acid. Proanthocyanidins and ursolic acid decrease growth and increase self-destruction of several types of cancer in cell studies.Grapefruit: An 18th century hybrid of the pummelo and sweet orange. It is grown mainly in the Americas. Its name derives from the fruit's appearance as it grows: grape-like clusters on trees. Grapefruit contains these naringenin and other flavonoids like limonin and other limonoids, beta-carotene and lycopene (pink and red varieties). Foods containing lycopene lower the risk of prostate cancer.Green Tea: Since ancient times, tea has been used as both beverage and medicine. Both black and green teas contain numerous active ingredients, including polyphenols and flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants. One class of flavonoids called catechins has recently become the focus of widespread study for their anti-cancer potential. Tea is the best source of catechins in the human diet, and green tea contains about three times the quantity of catechins found in black tea. In laboratory studies, green tea has been shown to slow or completely prevent cancer development in colon, liver, breast and prostate cells. Other studies involving green tea have shown similar protective effects in tissues of the lung, skin and digestive tract.Winter Squash/Pumpkins: They contain Alpha and Beta carotene which is converted to Vitamin A inside the body. The yellow pigmented lutein, zeaxanthin helps to filter high energy ultra violet rays that can damage our eye's lens and retina. Lab studies suggest that dietary intake decreases the chances of skin cancer related to exposure from sun. Walnuts: The major actives found in walnut are - Elligtannins, Gamma-tocopherol, Alpha-linolenic acid, phytosterols and Melatonin. Laboratory studies show that consuming walnuts helps in breast cancer, colon tumor and prostate cancer. The studies also show decreased damage to DNA by regular consumption of walnut.5) Do all chemicals, preservatives and additives in foods cause cancer?Additives serve a wide variety of uses. For example, preservatives protect foods against deterioration and prevent growth of fungi and bacteria. Other additives help improve the texture and consistency of foods, keep them flowing freely when poured, or prevent them from drying out. Flavourings restore taste losses or can enhance the flavour or aroma of food. Emulsifiers ensure that oil and water in foods do not separate. Some commonly used preservatives which are doubted to have a relation with cancer are - Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite.Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a phenolic antioxidant which prevents rancidity of fats and oils in food by protecting against lipid oxidation. High levels of BHA is found to create stomach tumor in laboratory animals. Some other chemicals which are found in canned foods and are known to perpetrate cancer are -Bisphenol A(BPA) can be found in reusable plastic food containers and the lining of food and beverage cans. Research shows that BPA exposure is linked to breast cancer, and has been shown to interfere with chemotherapy treatment for the disease.Phthalates can be found in some plastic food containers and are considered as endocrine disruptors. Phthalate exposure has been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer.Some pesticides and herbicides used on foods we eat have been labeled as human or animal carcinogens.Zeranol: Commonly found in the beef industry processing, it mimics an estrogen like action in the body and has been found carcinogenic in laboratory animals. This chemical is banned by the European Union.Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is used to produce food packaging. It was one of the first chemicals designated as known human carcinogen and has been linked to increased mortality from breast cancer and liver cancer among workers involved in its manufacture.6) A lot is being talked about the Mediterranean diet and its anti-cancer properties. How helpful is the diet? The Mediterranean diet got popular in 1990's for its protective qualities against heart ailments. Later it was found to be effective for other lifestyle disorders and cancer. Instead of accepting all the dishes that are offered in the name of a Mediterranean diet we should look for some basic concepts for which this cuisine is revered. These are - good to control weight gain, bad cholesterol and blood sugar.A typical Mediterranean diet includes - abundant plant foods, fresh fruits, olive oil, cereals, wine, moderate consumption of fish, poultry and low amounts of red meat. The main benefit of this type of a diet is that it reduces inflammatory changes and oxidative stress in the body. By reducing inflammatory changes and delaying the age related changes in body it increases longevity and improves health. At least 7 types of cancers are related to obesity and in that context a Mediterranean diet helps to maintain a healthy glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. The biological mechanisms for cancer prevention associated with the Mediterranean diet have been related to the favourable effect of a balanced ratio of omega 6 and omega 3, essential fatty acids and high amounts of fibre, antioxidants and polyphenols found in fruits, vegetables, olive oil and wine.7) Five tips that one should follow for a healthy lifestyle.Include fibers in your diet for healthy bowel movements. Regular bowels are important for detoxification.Regular exercise is most important to boost immunity and avoid metabolic disorders like diabetes, hyper cholesterol, obesity, thyroid, hypertension etc. Yoga, pranayama are good for reducing stress, improving flexibility and correcting posture.Nuts provides a good source of energy and other nutrients which are helpful. They help in the reduction and maintenance of weight. Nuts are advisable for controlling bad cholesterol. Nuts like walnut, almonds and pistachios are good for diabetics, hypercholesterolemia.Intake of fruits and vegetables provides necessary antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These help to neutralize the oxidative stress in the body and avoid damages to DNA, ageing.Regular detox through green and herbal teas helps to maintain the balance in the body. Spa and Ayurveda therapies like body massages, shirodhara, chooran svedanam help to relax the body and mind. Lymphatic drainage therapy is also helpful to cleanse channels and get rid of toxins from the lymphatic system.

Understanding Cancer Better

Dr. Sandeep Nayak, Surgical Oncologist
What is cancer?Cancer is the name given to a group of diseases that behave similarly. There is a wide range of cancers which are characterised by an uncontrolled division of body's cells without halting and thereby, spread into surrounding tissues pushing normal cells.Cancer can begin at any place in the human body, which is comprised trillions of cells. Regularly, human cells divide and shape into new cells as the body needs them. At the point when cells get senile or get harmed, they bite the dust, and new cells assume their position. When the organised procedure of cell growth fails, cancer begins. Cells turn out to be increasingly irregular in shape and size, and continue to survive even when they ought to die, and new cells are formed even when they are not required. These cells can multiply without any reason and may form what is called tumours. Cancerous tumours are harmful, which implies that they can spread into, or attack, adjacent tissues. Moreover, as these tumours develop, some cancer cells can escape and go to far off spots in the body through the blood or the lymph framework and shape new tumours a long way from the first tumours.Why worry about cancer?Cancers figure among the main causes of morbidity and mortality around the world, with roughly 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths every year. In the next two decades, it is estimated that the incidence of cancer will increase by 70% throughout the world. Among men, the five most common cancers in 2012 were lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach, and liver cancer.In women, the five most common cancers are breast, colorectal, lung, cervix, and stomach cancer.Around 33% of cancer deaths can be prevented by behavioural and dietary changes. The risks include high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol use.Read my blogs on early detection of cancer and cancer prevention to understand how to reduce your risk.