Cancer, the second leading cause of death with an estimated 18 million cases around the world, continues to stalk mankind but it is possible to keep the dreaded ailment at bay by avoiding risk factors and regular screening, an expert said here on Wednesday.
“Usually when cancer is detected, it is very late and very little can be done. But cancer development is not a very sudden process as it requires conversion of normal to abnormal tissue and takes months and years to advance,” Dr. Manoj Kumar Sahu, Head of the department of Gastroenterology at the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, said.
Dr. Sahu, who was speaking at a programme organised by the hospital in partnership with the World Gastroenterology Organisation to mark the ‘World Digestive Health Day’, said there were identified risk factors for cancer development. “Modifying or avoiding key risk factors, early detection, screenings and treatment can reduce the number of deaths caused by cancer,” he said.
As per the National Cancer Registry, more than 1300 people die every day due to cancer in India, he said adding four of the top seven common cancers related to the digestive system.
Gastric cancers were most commonly found in southern and eastern India and cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, gall bladder and pancreas were commonly found in Odisha, Dr. Sahu said.
The theme for the World Digestive Health Day this year is ‘Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Cancer’.
Symptoms and signs in the early stage of developing cancer need to be picked up to diagnose the disease for complete cure, he said adding difficulty in swallowing, loss of appetite, weight loss, blood in stool etc could indicate the possibility of cancer in the gastrointestinal tract.
Dr. Pushparaj Samantasinhar, Medical Superintendent of IMS and SUM Hospital, Dr. Jimmy Narayan, Gastroenterologist, Dr. Sunil Agarwal, Oncologist, Dr. Amitabh Jena, Oncologist, Dr. Sourav Mishra, Oncologist, who were present, emphasized on prevention and diagnosis of the gastrointestinal cancer.
The experts said smoking and using tobacco in any form triggered cancer in different parts of the body. Besides, consumption of alcohol, salted, spicy, processed and preserved food, soda and smoked meat could cause cancer in the gastrointestinal tract.
Besides, obesity caused cancers of the esophagus, proximal stomach and liver. Diet with a lot of fiber can prevent colon cancer while intake of vegetables, fruits and pulses provided protection against the disease, they said.