India is witnessing a surge in cancer cases and the graph is continuously increasing. Before lockdown, the number of people coming for tests to diagnose cancer was high. During the pandemic, the numbers dramatically declined. Now, the focus is again on appealing to everyone to go for regular health checkups like Pap smear, oral checkup, mammography, and other blood tests for prompt diagnosis of cancers. Delayed diagnosis can result in increased morbidity and mortality.
Cancer cases are rising and there is an enormous challenge in prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. The causes of cancer are multifactorial like food habits, pollution, working in chemical factories, alcohol or tobacco consumption. Since the testing has improved so the diagnosis has also improved now. Timely screening aims to identify ones with abnormalities suggestive of specific cancer or pre-cancer who have not developed any symptoms and refer them promptly for diagnosis and treatment.
Dr Sanjay Ingle, Pathologist, and Zonal Technical Head West India, Apollo Diagnostics, Pune, highlighted, “In men, oral cavity and gastrointestinal tract cancers are on the rise while in women, breast, cervical and ovarian cancer cases are common. Regular health checkups for detecting cancers are mandatory for everyone above 40 as many follow a sedentary lifestyle. Pap smear test will help diagnose cervical cancer at an early stage. CA 125 test can be taken to detect ovarian carcinoma under doctor supervision. Every woman post 30 should go for it as the causative pathology occurs at a younger age and manifests after a certain period of time. Catching infection at an early stage can prevent cervical and ovarian cancer. Women above 40 should go for regular mammograms, and if one has a history of breast cancer then opt for genetic testing. Men who smoke or consume tobacco right from a younger age should go for oral examination after every 6 months. Men above 40 to take prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test after every one year. without fail.”
Dr Ingle added, “Before lockdown, around 30% of people would take tests after their experts’ advice (Dec -Jan month). Now, only 8% of people above 40 come for cancer screening (Dec-Jan). Pre-covid, around 10-15 women, would come for Pap smear test. But, due to the fear of contracting Coronavirus, only 1-2 people took tests, till last year. In January 2021, 5-7 patients come on a daily basis for Pap smear test. Currently, there is a lot of awareness in people regarding the signs and symptoms of cancer. Hence, it is imperative to take charge of the health and keep cancer at bay.”