Trick to beat cancer: Awareness, early detection
Many cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage when they are harder to treat successfully
People were holding their MRI and CT scan reports and queuing up at the Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital on February 5 for their consultations with doctors. One such patient was 92-year-old Dilman Dangol. Accompanied by three of his sons, he had come from Kebalpur-1, Dhading, after experiencing pain in the throat while swallowing food back in November 2016.
“I had gone to a local chemist who referred medicines for tonsillitis. As it didn’t help, I went to Bir Hospital, Kathmandu for further treatment. But the doctors there referred me here,” Dangol said.
At Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital, Dangol, with a history of smoking and drinking, was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in the early stage. As per Dr Prakash Raj Neupane, Medical Director of Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital and President of BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital, Chitwan, “Dangol needs chemotherapy for his treatment.”
Cancer is an uncontrolled and malignant growth of cells in the body which either grows or spreads affecting nearby areas and organs.
The new World Health Organisation (WHO) figures released in the first week of February, which celebrated World Cancer Day on February 4, indicate that each year 8.8 million people die from cancer, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. It also shared that one problem is that many cancer cases are diagnosed too late. Even in countries with optimal health systems and services, many cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat successfully.
So, the mantra to fight cancer is early detection.
Cervical, breast, lungs, and intestine cancers are the most common cancers found among the Nepalis. About 2,500-3,000 new patients get registered in the Bhaktapur-based hospital each year, as per its data. On the other hand, the estimated range of new patients in BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital is around 7,000 each year. However, thousands of cases go unreported, as per Dr Neupane, while in most cases, cancer is diagnosed at the last stage.
Two-and-a-half years ago, Samjhana Sapkota, 29, of Diktel, Khotang came to Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital. She had ovary cancer and it had metastasised to her intestines
— she was in Stage IV state.
“We had lost hope. When I was taking her to the operation theatre, I felt that the operation wouldn’t succeed as her case was very critical,” revealed Dr Neupane citing, “She came to us when
she was at the last stage. Cancer patients usually come to us when it is too late as they are not aware about cancer.”
But Sapkota won her battle on cancer. After the operation and treatment, Sapkota is healthy and is carrying on with her business of selling chana chatpate at Dhapakhel.
Sapkota and Dangol are a few examples. But “when patients come at advanced stage, it is difficult for treatment. If patients come at an early stage, then it is easy for all of us. Patients can recover with radiotherapy, chemotherapy or operation before cancer spreads to other organs,” suggested Dr Neupane.
Women more prone
According to Dr Neupane, there are more women cancer patients in the country. “There is 55 per cent of women cancer patients, while the rate of men is 45 per cent,” he revealed citing, “Women in the country are prone to cancers as they are at a higher risk of cervical and breast cancers.”
Contributing to cervical and breast cancers in larger numbers are “late marriage, decreasing breast feeding, intake of contraceptive pills, obesity, alcohol intake and smoking”. As per him, delivery of more number of children, birth trauma and poor hygiene are some of the causes of cervical cancer. He added, “Women from the Tarai region are comparatively discriminated more by their family resulting in health problems like cancer. They aren’t even taken to hospitals because of gender discrimination.”
Women don’t immediately visit hospitals when they are sick. “Several factors such as their household responsibilities stop them,” said Dr Sarita Ghimire, Executive Secretary at Nepal Cancer
Care Foundation, Talchikhel while pointing out, “When they do come, it is usually late. Until and unless women are made aware about cancers, it will be difficult.”
Early detection of cancer helps in its treatment. But it is always better to prevent the disease from growing in you in the first place. Follow these —
- Avoid smoking
- Maintain your body weight
- Avoid alcohol
- Eat a healthy balanced diet
- Treat infections
- Enjoy the sun safely
- Go for early detection and timely treatment