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WE STAND WITH YOU

At Samita Mishra Memorial Foundation for Cancer Research, we understand that cancer diagnosis — confirmed or potential can create immense amount of anxiety and stress. We have tried to curate here a series of resources that aim to help you understand more about the disease, its signs and symptoms and potential lines of treatment. We have also tried to curate a list of additional resources to help you make holistic lifestyle choices in order to cope with the disease.

Cancer : A Brief History

Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee’s work,  Emperor Of All Maladies is an iconic and insightful drive into the history of cancer. Here is a summary of the book to familiarize you with the book. The earliest known descriptions of cancer date back to ancient Egypt, where it was identified as a disease of the breast. The Greeks later coined the term "karkinos," which means crab, to describe the spreading, invasive nature of the disease. Over the centuries, physicians and scientists struggled to understand what caused cancer and how to treat it.

 

In the 19th century, major breakthroughs were made in understanding the nature of cancer cells, and surgery became a viable treatment option. However, early surgical techniques were often crude and painful, and the long-term survival rates for cancer patients were poor. The 20th century saw major advances in cancer treatment, including the development of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These treatments revolutionized cancer care, but also brought with them significant side effects.

 

In recent decades, there have been major strides in cancer research, including the discovery of cancer-causing genes and the development of targeted therapies. Despite these advances, cancer remains a major global health challenge, and much work remains to be done to prevent and treat the disease. However, early diagnosis and timely intervention continues to not only prolong life but also enhance rehabilitation outcomes. 

Common Types of Cancer In India

1

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cells of the breast. It is a malignant tumor that can grow and spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in women, but it can also occur in men.

 

Breast cancer can originate in different parts of the breast, such as the ducts that carry milk to the nipple, the lobules that produce milk, or other breast tissue. The cancer cells can invade nearby healthy breast tissue and can also spread to the lymph nodes under the arm, and eventually to other parts of the body.

 

Symptoms of breast cancer may include a lump or thickening in the breast or underarm, changes in the size or shape of the breast, changes in the skin of the breast, such as dimpling, puckering, or redness, nipple discharge or inversion, and breast pain. However, many people with breast cancer may not experience any symptoms, which is why regular screening is important.

 

Treatment for breast cancer may involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy, depending on the stage and characteristics of the cancer. Early detection and treatment can improve the prognosis and increase the chances of survival.

 

To know more, visit, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

2

Head and Neck Cancer

Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer or oral cavity cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the mouth or throat. It can occur on the lips, gums, tongue, the roof or floor of the mouth, or the inside of the cheeks.

 

The most common risk factors for oral cancer include tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, a weakened immune system, and exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV). However, oral cancer can also occur in people who do not have these risk factors.

 

Symptoms of oral cancer may include a sore or lump in the mouth that does not heal, persistent mouth pain or numbness, difficulty chewing or swallowing, changes in the way the teeth fit together, and unexplained bleeding in the mouth.

If oral cancer is suspected, a doctor may perform a physical exam of the mouth and throat, as well as imaging tests and a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

 

Treatment for oral cancer may involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. The specific treatment plan will depend on the stage and location of the cancer, as well as the person's overall health and preferences.

 

Like many other types of cancer, early detection and treatment can improve the chances of survival and reduce the risk of complications. Regular dental check-ups and self-examinations of the mouth can help with early detection of oral cancer.


To know more, visit, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

3

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Cervical cancer is usually caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted through sexual contact. Most cases of cervical cancer develop slowly over several years, and early stages of the disease may not cause any symptoms. However, as the cancer progresses, symptoms may include abnormal vaginal bleeding, bleeding after sex, pelvic pain, and unusual vaginal discharge.

 

Cervical cancer can be detected early through regular Pap tests or HPV tests, which can identify abnormal cells in the cervix before they develop into cancer. If abnormal cells are found, further testing or treatment may be necessary to prevent the development of cancer. Treatment for cervical cancer depends on the stage and extent of the cancer, as well as the woman's age and overall health. Options may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. In some cases, a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) may be necessary.

 

Prevention of cervical cancer involves getting regular Pap tests and HPV tests, practicing safe sex by using condoms, and getting the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is recommended for both boys and girls, starting at age 11 or 12, to prevent the transmission of HPV and reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Talk to your child’s pediatrician to know more.


To know more, visit, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

4

LUNG CANCER

Lung cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the lungs. It is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. The main cause of lung cancer is smoking, although non-smokers can also develop the disease. 

 

There are two main types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for about 80% of cases. SCLC is less common and tends to be more aggressive.

 

The symptoms of lung cancer can include a persistent cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing, hoarseness, and coughing up blood. However, many people with early-stage lung cancer may not have any symptoms at all.

 

Diagnosis of lung cancer typically involves a combination of imaging tests (such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans) and biopsy, which involves removing a small piece of lung tissue for examination under a microscope.

 

Treatment options for lung cancer depend on the type and stage of the cancer. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy are all possible treatment options. In some cases, a combination of treatments may be used.

Prevention of lung cancer involves avoiding tobacco smoke, both by not smoking and by avoiding secondhand smoke. Other risk factors for lung cancer include exposure to radon, air pollution, and certain occupational hazards such as asbestos.

 

To know more, visit, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

5

COLORECTAL CANCER

Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. It is the third most common type of cancer in both men and women worldwide, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

 

The exact causes of colorectal cancer are not well understood, but there are certain risk factors that can increase a person's likelihood of developing the disease. These include age (the risk increases with age), a family history of colorectal cancer, a personal history of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease, a diet high in red meat and processed foods, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

 

Symptoms of colorectal cancer can include changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. However, in many cases, there may be no symptoms at all.

Diagnosis of colorectal cancer typically involves a combination of screening tests (such as fecal occult blood tests, colonoscopies, and sigmoidoscopies) and biopsy, which involves removing a small piece of tissue for examination under a microscope.

 

Treatment options for colorectal cancer depend on the stage and location of the cancer. Surgery is often the first-line treatment, and may be followed by chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy. In some cases, a combination of treatments may be used.

 

Prevention of colorectal cancer involves maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in red and processed meats, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and regular screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 45 for people at average risk.

 

To know more, visit, Centre for Disease Control.

6

PROSTATE CANCER

Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the prostate gland, which is a small gland located below the bladder in men. It is the most common type of cancer in men, but most cases are slow-growing and do not spread beyond the prostate gland.

The exact causes of prostate cancer are not well understood, but there are certain risk factors that can increase a person's likelihood of developing the disease. These include age (the risk increases with age), a family history of prostate cancer, and certain genetic mutations.

Symptoms of prostate cancer can include difficulty urinating, weak urine flow, blood in the urine or semen, erectile dysfunction, and pain in the back, hips, or pelvis. However, in many cases, there may be no symptoms at all.

Diagnosis of prostate cancer typically involves a combination of screening tests (such as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal exam) and biopsy, which involves removing a small piece of tissue for examination under a microscope.

Treatment options for prostate cancer depend on the stage and location of the cancer. For early-stage prostate cancer, active surveillance (also known as watchful waiting) may be an option, which involves monitoring the cancer closely without immediate treatment. Other treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of treatments.

Prevention of prostate cancer involves maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in red and processed meats, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking. Some evidence suggests that regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

To know more, visit the Centre for Disease Control.

7

STOMACH CANCER

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the cells lining the stomach. It is relatively rare in the United States, but is more common in other parts of the world, particularly in Japan, Korea, and China.

The exact causes of stomach cancer are not well understood, but there are certain risk factors that can increase a person's likelihood of developing the disease. These include a family history of stomach cancer, a diet high in salted or smoked foods, chronic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), smoking, and infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.

Symptoms of stomach cancer can include indigestion, heartburn, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. However, in many cases, there may be no symptoms at all.

Diagnosis of stomach cancer typically involves a combination of imaging tests (such as a CT scan or an endoscopy) and biopsy, which involves removing a small piece of tissue for examination under a microscope.

Treatment options for stomach cancer depend on the stage and location of the cancer. Surgery is often the first-line treatment, and may be followed by chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy. In some cases, a combination of treatments may be used.

Prevention of stomach cancer involves maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in salted or smoked foods, avoiding smoking, and seeking treatment for chronic gastritis and infection with Helicobacter pylori. Some evidence suggests that regular consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), may help reduce the risk of stomach cancer.

To know more, visit the National Cancer Institute.

8

LIVER CANCER

Liver cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the liver. It is relatively rare in the United States, but is more common in other parts of the world, particularly in Asia and Africa.

 

The exact causes of liver cancer are not well understood, but there are certain risk factors that can increase a person's likelihood of developing the disease. These include chronic infection with hepatitis B or C viruses, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes, and exposure to certain chemicals and toxins.

 

Symptoms of liver cancer can include abdominal pain, swelling or bloating, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), and fatigue. However, in many cases, there may be no symptoms at all.

Diagnosis of liver cancer typically involves a combination of imaging tests (such as a CT scan or an MRI) and biopsy, which involves removing a small piece of tissue for examination under a microscope.

 

Treatment options for liver cancer depend on the stage and location of the cancer. For early-stage liver cancer, surgery may be an option, which involves removing part or all of the liver. Other treatment options may include radiation therapy, targeted therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of treatments.

 

Prevention of liver cancer involves maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, and seeking treatment for chronic infection with hepatitis B or C viruses. Vaccination against hepatitis B virus can also help reduce the risk of liver cancer. Additionally, avoiding exposure to certain chemicals and toxins, such as aflatoxins (produced by a type of fungus that can contaminate food), can also help reduce the risk of liver cancer.

 

To know more, visit the National Cancer Institute.

UNDERSTANDING CANCER CARE AND TREATMENT

Often 

Surgery

SURGERY

Surgery is a common cancer treatment in which a surgeon removes cancerous tissue or tumors from the body. Surgery can be curative, meaning it may completely eliminate the cancer, or it can be palliative, meaning it is used to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. In some cases, surgery may be the only treatment needed, while in others it may be combined with other treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Image by National Cancer Institute

RADIATION THERAPY

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation, such as X-rays or gamma rays, to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. The radiation may be delivered externally, using a machine that directs the radiation at the tumor from outside the body, or internally, using radioactive materials that are placed directly in or near the tumor. Radiation therapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy

Image by National Cancer Institute

CHEMOTHERAPY

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. The drugs may be taken orally or intravenously, and are often given in cycles with rest periods in between. Chemotherapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy.

IMMUNOTHERAPY

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps the body's immune system recognize and attack cancer cells. There are different types of immunotherapy, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors and CAR T-cell therapy, that work in different ways. Immunotherapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

TARGETED THERAPY

Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets specific proteins or genes that contribute to the growth and spread of cancer cells. Targeted therapy drugs may be taken orally or intravenously, and are often used to treat advanced or metastatic cancer. Targeted therapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments.

HORMONE THERAPY

Hormone therapy is a type of cancer treatment that works by blocking or lowering the levels of certain hormones that contribute to the growth and spread of certain types of cancer, such as breast or prostate cancer. Hormone therapy may be given orally or by injection, and may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Embryonic Stem Cells

STEM CELL TREATMENT

A stem cell transplant is a procedure that involves replacing damaged or diseased bone marrow with healthy stem cells. The stem cells may be obtained from the patient themselves (autologous transplant) or from a donor (allogeneic transplant). Stem cell transplant is often used to treat certain types of blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma.

A nurse taking care of ole patient

PALLIATIVE CARE

Palliative care is a specialized type of medical care that focuses on relieving symptoms and improving quality of life for people with serious illnesses, including cancer. Palliative care may be provided alongside cancer treatment, and is often used to manage symptoms such as pain, nausea, and fatigue. Palliative care may include medications, medical procedures, and other interventions to improve comfort and quality of life. In some cases, palliative care may be the main focus of treatment for people with advanced or incurable cancer. Palliative care can be provided by a team of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, and chaplains.

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