Pioneer Health

Surviving cancer

Surviving cancer

By 2020, India will have over 17.3 lakh new cases of cancer with breast, lung and cervix topping the list.

PIONEER HEALTH brings you a report on what you should know about this disease that will kill around 8 lakh people

A rare cancer

A rare form of cancer, affecting about 2,000 people in India per year, Retinoblastoma is the most common among the cancers of the eye in children under the age of five.

About 92 per cent of such children live in the developing nations. Many children lose their eye sight or die from this cancer due to lack of awareness of the initial signs of presentation, poor access to proper treatment or lack of finances to finish the treatment.

Retinoblastoma is a cancer that starts in the retina, the very back part of the eye. It occurs when nerve cells in the retina develop genetic mutations. These mutations cause the cells to continue growing and multiplying when healthy cells would die. This accumulating mass of cells forms a tumor.

Some other symptoms of this condition include poorly aligned or ‘wandering’ eye, known as strabismus; reddish pupil, often with pain; larger-than-normal pupil; different-colored irises; and poor vision or decreased vision.

survival rate

Cancer survival rates or survival statistics are indicative of the percentage of people who survive a certain type of cancer for a specific amount of time. Cancer statistics often use an overall five-year survival rate, which is an estimation of the percentage of people who are still alive five years after their diagnosis. Survival also varies for different types of cancer and also for common cancers in males and in females.

The five-year survival is also calculated by the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis, whether it is confined to the organ affected or spread further. Survival rates also vary between the developed and developing countries.

The overall five-year survival rate for bladder cancer is 78%, this means that of all people who have bladder cancer, 78 of every 100 are living five years after diagnosis.

An estimated 52% of people diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer live for at least five years after diagnosis.

The five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer that has spread (metastasized) to other areas of the body is 4%.

Over the years, the five-year survival has increased, which reflects the advances in oncology in the form of treatment and more importantly, diagnostic techniques that allow early detection, which can come with greater awareness.


— Dr KK Aggarwal, president Heart Care Foundation of India

Cervix cancer is preventable

Vaccination against HPV: Vaccination is available for girls and women ages 9 to 26. The vaccine is most effective if given to girls before they become sexually active.

Pap test: Pap test can detect precancerous conditions of the cervix, so they can be monitored or treated in order to prevent cervical cancer. Most medical organizations suggest women begin routine Pap tests at age 21 and repeat them every three years

HPV test: infection with Human Papilloma virus can be detected directly in place of cervical precancerous changes via pap smear. This test can be used in women over 30 years of age and is more sensitive than Pap smear. The interval of screening can be increased to five years if HPV test is negative.

Practice safe sex. Using a condom, having fewer sexual partners and delaying intercourse may reduce your risk of cervical cancer.

Don't smoke.

To conclude, cervical cancer is a preventable and treatable condition. Prevention via vaccination, early detection via pap smear/HPV test and timely treatment can help in controlling the disease.

— Dr Satinder Kaur, Core Diagnostics


Awareness: It is imperative to be aware about cancer, its symptoms, causes and the essential need to be vigilant for the sake your health, especially if your life is hectic and stressful.

Self-examination: Breast cancer usually develops as a lump in the breast tissue. It is imperative that every woman develops a self-examination routine to check her breast area for any lump formation. Similarly cervical cancer too has some warning signs which every woman must watch out for — excessive vaginal bleeding, especially in between the period cycle, formation of watery or frothy coloured discharge.

Regular check-up: Being busy, stressed, lazy or simple forgetfulness are not acceptable excuses when it comes to talking care of your health. The tests recommended for cancer screening are bilateral mammogram for screening of breast cancer and a pap smear with or without testing for HPV for cervical cancer.

Meet your doctor: It is highly recommended that a woman after 30 years of age start opting for regular check-ups with her ob-gyn not only for her reproductive health, but also to screen for cancer. While googling your symptoms is a more attractive prospect, it is not a replacement for the guidance which a doctor can provide.

Cancer is curable, the message for women on World Cancer Day is to seek screening and do not dismiss any medical symptoms.

prevent cancer

Avoid using tobacco in any form: Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas.

Consume a healthy diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is important to prevent the risk of cancer.

Maintain a healthy weight.

Avoid risky behaviour: Habits such as unsafe sex and sharing needles can lead to infections that, in turn, might increase the risk of cancer.

Myths debunked

Cancer does not have an answer: Absolutely untrue, with today’s modern day diagnostics and treatment protocols, cancer has become a disease which is highly curable in the early and not so early stages. In fact, many patients of early cancer including lymphomas and leukaemias are surviving for more than 15-20 years now. Even quite a significant percentage of locally advanced and late stage cancers have very effective treatment protocols.

Cancer is a disease of old age: Although majority of cancer takes place above 50 years of age, but there has been a marked increase in cases among the young.

Cancer is painful and painless lumps aren’t cancerous: One of the biggest myth is that people tend to ignore painless lumps. You should be showing to your family doctors and general practitioners for a second opinion with an oncologist.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy is painful: Not at all, although you may feel a pinch while the injection might be started during chemotherapy, it is not painful as a whole. Most of the cancer drugs are diluted in intravenous fluids like saline or glucose and are infused slowly. Though there are side effects in the post chemotherapy period, better supportive care takes care of those.

Biopsy causes spread of cancer: A common myth that is propagated is that biopsy or fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) leads to spread of cancer. Most biopsies are done by surgeons and surgical oncologists in a proper manner which does not lead to any spread.

— Dr Sudharshan De, Radiation Oncologist, Jaypee Hospital, Noida


Dry and damaged hair are a bane for any woman. Just to get that shine, we spent thousands. But a few home ingredients will do the trick, says RoshAni Devi

Though using an avocado is a bit expensive but it works wonders for dry hair. Take a ripe avocado and mash it properly after removing the seed. Mix a couple of teaspoons of olive oil. Apply this paste to wet hair and leave it for  an hour. Wash off. Do this once a week for a month for great looking hair.

Believe it or not, good old butter is another great way to get the luster back in the hair. Apply it on the hair and leave it for half-an-hour. Wash off with shampoo. We all know the wonders that an egg can do for the hair. Though it leaves behind a bit of a stench, the yolk has protein, minerals and essential fatty acids that nourish the hair strands. To get rid of the smell one can make a paste of egg, yogurt and almond oil and apply this on the hair. Leave it for half-an-hour and wash off with shampoo. Banana is a great fruit. It is rich in potassium, vitamins, natural oils and has natural moisture. Mash a ripe banana and apply the paste in the hair, not scalp and leave it for an hour. Wash off.



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