Why you need to know about Cancer?
Cancer is the disease of the 21st century. According to recent ‘Globocan 2018’ data, there were about 1 crore and eighty lakh new patients who had cancer in 2018. About 50% of these new cancer diagnoses were in Asia. It is estimated that about 20% of men and about 16% of women around the world will develop a cancer in their lifetime. For people in the Western world, the estimates for the risk of getting cancer is higher.
In India, the rates of cancer are lesser than in the Western world. Recent data show that there were about 11 lakh new cancers in the year. But these rates have been steadily increasing due to increased life expectancy of the population and changing socio-economic conditions in the country. Cancer is now the second and fourth leading cause of death in urban and rural India respectively.
All in all, the chance of us getting a cancer in our lifetime is increasing year on year and so it is important to know more about the disease in terms of what it is, how we get it, how we can prevent it, how we can detect it early so that it can be cured and how can it be treated if we get it.
Getting diagnosed with a cancer and dealing with the consequences of it can be a daunting experience for the patient and the family at many levels, personal, social, emotional and financial. Taking steps to prevent it or diagnose it early can reduce or limit those effects.
Many cancers are preventable by living a healthier life in the same way as we do to prevent the risk of heart disease, diabetes etc. It may be surprising to know, that the risk factors for getting any of these diseases are similar to an extent. See the section on prevention of cancer to get more information about how to reduce your risk of getting a cancer.
Almost all cancers are curable when detected at an early stage of the illness. This can be difficult a lot of times as early cancers may not cause symptoms, but cancer screening tests are available to detect some cancers early. See the section on Cancer screening to find out what screening tests are available to help detect early.
Knowing more about cancer in the form of how it is diagnosed, what tests are done to know about the condition and what treatment options are available is very important for the patient and his/her family. The patient should play an active part in the decision-making process of any cancer treatment. This is called as shared decision making. A decision regarding a further course of action is made jointly by the patient, family and the doctor with the patient and family fully aware of the benefits and risks of such treatments. This concept is very important because, a lot of times in cancer treatment, there may be more than one option of treatment available and which one to select depends on a number of factors such as outcome, side effects, cost, duration of treatment, personal factors etc. So, making an informed choice is always recommended when deciding on a course of action as one option may not be suitable for everyone.