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A survivor’s experience from Detection to Cure

“My name is Elizabeth. I am 56 years old, a teacher by profession and a cancer survivor by attitude.” I want to share my story to encourage others who are affected by this disease. I was a normal, healthy, active person just going about my regular routine when I was struck with this disease. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the month of July, after I suddenly started bleeding and the biopsy report confirmed that I had squamous cell carcinoma. Just like anyone else knowing that I had the big ‘C’ terrified me first. Once it sunk in, I…

Robotic Surgery – Facts and Myths

Surgery has evolved from the era of invasive “open” model to the minimally invasive model especially when dealing with “cavity” surgery (abdominal/chest cavities). The advantages of MIS are pretty obvious with smaller incisions, lesser pain, earlier return to normal activities, lesser wound-related complications. However, there are significant challenges with traditional laparoscopic surgery – counter-intuitive movements, rigid non-articulating instruments, limitation with 2D vision and ergonomic discomfort for the operating surgeon to name a few. Newer platforms like Robotic Surgery work to overcome these limitations and make it easier for the surgeons to do a better job and thereby improve outcomes for…

Cancer has an Answer…

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world after cardiovascular diseases. The word cancer came from the Greek words “Karkinos” to describe carcinoma tumors by Hippocrates (460-370 B.C). The world’s oldest case of breast cancer hails from ancient Egypt in 1500 BC. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) estimates that one-in-five men and one-in-six women worldwide will develop cancer over the course of their lifetime, and those one-in-eight men and one-in-eleven women will die from their disease. Worldwide, the total number of people who are alive within 5 years of a cancer diagnosis, called the…

The Long Battle of Childhood Cancer

Young Rajesh (name changed) was an exuberant child. Or so his mother describes him through tears and trepidation. Exuberant is not a word you would use to describe the child that lies shivering in front of my eyes on the couch. He was weak but he seemed to be using his last ounce of energy trying to repel me from examining him. As someone who had diagnosed and cared for such children for a while now, even a perfunctory examination was enough to suspect that I would be dealing with a case of acute leukemia in that 5-year-old. The multiple…

Pathology At The Forefront Of Advances In Oncology

The practice of pathology and its role in cancer care has changed significantly in the past decade. In the olden days, it was limited to a microscope and a few special stains. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) arrived after that to advance diagnosis and treatment capabilities. The current treatment landscape is ever so changing – the era of chemotherapy changed to an era of precision medicine / personalized medicine. “One size fits all” (the approach of chemotherapy) is no longer valid. Each tumor is unique in its own genetic/molecular subtypes. Identifying driver mutation which drives the growth of cancer predominantly and thus also…

All Cancers Are Not The Same!

Contrary to widespread belief, Cancer is not the same in every patient. Just as there are so many parts in the human body, there are thousands of cancer variants a person can get affected with. The two key determinants of outcomes of cancer therapy are the BODY ORGAN which is involved and the STAGE at which it is detected in the patient. Cancers are basically divided into solid organ cancers and hematological (blood and lymphatic system) cancers. The survival of a patient differs where it affects, thyroid/brain/lung/kidney/gallbladder/intestine/bones/blood etc.. Most of the solid organ cancers which have not metastasized (spread to…

Tobacco – The Most Common Preventable Cause Of Cancer

During the early days of my training as a medical oncologist at AIIMS, New Delhi, I was alarmed to see patients as young as 20 years being diagnosed with advanced stages of oral cavity cancers and dying within one year of diagnosis despite treatment. Tobacco chewing is the single most important cause of these cancers and in certain parts of the country, it is so prevalent that it has become the most common cause of cancer. Research points out that Tobacco abuse is the most common cause of cancer. It is responsible for 10 different types of cancers and collectively…

Lower your risk for colorectal cancer

You can prevent CRC by being physically active, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and limiting the intake of alcohol. In colorectal cancer (CRC), there is a malignant growth in the large intestine. In the advanced stages, cancer spreads from the intestine to the liver. Rarely does it spread to the lungs or bones, but when it does, it is known as metastatic CRC. Globally, CRC is the 3rd most common cancer and the 4th most common cause of death. It is more common in developed countries, but its incidence has also been rising in developing countries. In India, it…

All about ‘Head and Neck’ Cancers !

Of the 10 lakh cases of cancer detected in India every year, around 2 lakh are cancers of the ‘head and neck’ category. ‘Head and Neck’ cancers are tumors in and around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses, or mouth. These develop when healthy cells in these regions change and grow out of control forming a mass called tumor. They are mostly squamous cell carcinomas, which originate from flat squamous cells that form the surface area of tissue inside head and neck. In India, oral squamous cell carcinoma is the most common cancer in men and the fourth most common cancer…