The importance of having a proper diet, good physical exercise and maintaining proper body weight to prevent cancer was stressed by experts speaking at an awareness programme organised jointly by The Hindu and the Andhra Hospitals on the occasion of the ‘World Cancer Day', at the Maris Stella College here on Friday.

Andhra Hospitals' consulting gynaecologist D. Lavanya told the students that they should not feel shy to get themselves checked for cervical or breast cancer because early detection was very important for complete recovery.

Biggest killer

Of the different types of cancers, cancer of the cervix (entrance to the womb) was the biggest killer of women in developing countries like India and breast cancer was the biggest killer of women in developed countries.

Cancer of the cervix could be detected at an early stage with the help of a very simple and painless test called “pap smear”.

While there was no age limit for cancer, all women above 30 years should undergo screening for cancer once a year, Dr. Lavanya said.

Genetic track

Ovarian cancer was another cancer of the genetic track with a high mortality rate because it was more difficult to detect and the symptoms show up at a late stage.

Women should undergo ultra-sound scanning every year for early detection of ovarian tumours. Self examination or mammography was needed for early detection of breast cancer.

Removal of breast for cancer patients was no more so traumatic because there was no disfigurement like in the past due to advancements in reconstructive surgery, Dr. Lavanya explained.

Seven signals

Andhra Hospitals' consulting oncologist M. Subba Rao said the seven signals that indicated the presence of cancer were changes in bowel or bladder habits, sores that don't heal, unusual bleeding of discharge, thickening or lumps in the breasts or anywhere else, indigestion or difficulty in swallowing, obvious changes in warts or moles or nagging cough or hoarseness in voice.

Interesting session

In an interesting interaction session, the doctors answered questions put to them by the students. Listing the symptoms of patients with cancer of the brain, Dr. Subba Rao said they suffer from “early morning head aches,” vomiting, fever and fits. Brain tumours were common in patients of age 20 to 25, he said.

Answering a question about cancer of the eye, Dr. Subba Rao said patients suffering from retinoblastoma (a form of eye cancer) display symptoms of “dancing eye”, eye balls that pop out and fits.

About blood cancer, he said that there was no specific cause for it, but it was curable if detected in the early stages.

Regional General Manager of The Hindu K. Chandrasekaran, introducing the topic, said the theme of World Cancer Day was “avoid UV exposure by being sun smart”.

The process of a sun burning transforming into cancer was very slow and it would take as long as two decades, he said.

Maris Stella College MBA faculty member Sr. Lavanya welcomed the gathering.

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