New horizons in cancer care

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New Delhi, April 8 (IANSlife) Degradation of environment and changing lifestyle is leading to an increase in cancer incidences across the country. Protecting the environment and adopting a healthy lifestyle can help prevent cancer.

New techniques such as Robotic surgery have revolutionised cancer treatment since a robot can reach any part where a tumour may reside which is difficult to reach through traditional surgery leading to preservation of organs.
“In Robotic surgery the surgeon gets 3D view with 10x magnification which decreases the error with increase in precision and ultimately helps the patient in early recovery,” says Dr Mudit Agarwal, Sr. Consultant Head & Neck Surgical Oncology at Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre (RGCIRC) while speaking on role of robotic surgery in Head and Neck cancers.
Head and Neck cancer is a group of cancers of the mouth, sinuses, nose or throat. A whopping 50 per cent of global head and neck cancers occur in Asia, especially in India. In our country this group of cancer accounts for 30 per cent of all cancer cases, say reports.
“Deformation of organs and scars have been common features in surgery for cancer but Robotic Surgery has gone a long way in preserving the organs so that a patient not only gets cured, but the organs remain functional without compromising on the cancer care”, adds Agarwal.
“For instance after surgery in thyroid cancer a patient gets a scar. Through robotic surgery we can avoid scars and deformation especially for cosmetically inclined young patients,” he added.
Speaking on another important development in cancer care, Dr Abhishek Bansal, Consultant – Interventional Radiology at RGCIRC said, “Interventional Oncology which involves treating cancer in a minimal invasive way is emerging as the fourth pillar in cancer treatment. Traditionally, Surgery, Chemotherapy and Radiation are the three ways to treat cancer. In interventional oncology, doctors reach the site of cancer through angiography or other ways without using a blade or scalpel. 90 percent of the procedures are done under local anesthesia.”
As many as, 60-70 percent of the patients are discharged the same day. Doctors reach to the tumour through arteries, veins or other routes and treat cancer. For instance in liver cancer, so far, surgery was the only option. Now instead of surgery, we insert medicine in the arteries that are supplying blood to the tumour so that it goes straight to the tumour with hardly any effects on the body. And then the artery is closed so that the tumour dies on its own, he adds.
Dr Vineet Talwar, Director – Medical Oncology, RGCIRC, said, “Smoking, air pollution, diesel fumes are leading to an increase in incidence of lung cancer. Those working in plastic factories where benzene compounds are used are at risk of cancer of the urinary bladder. Similarly those exposed to fungal toxins have high risk of lung cancer.”

Adding, “Realities of modern-day life can’t be prevented but one needs to take precaution so as to protect oneself. What goes around comes around. If we pollute the environment, it comes back to hurt us. Instead of having a complaining attitude, we need to take precaution and try not to contribute to deterioration of the environment.”
A healthy lifestyle is a life saver against cancer. Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, low roughage diet such as red meat make us vulnerable to different kinds of cancer, he stated.
Cancer is a largely curable disease in both adults and children if it is diagnosed early and proper treatment is taken. More than half of the cancers can be prevented in the early stages through screening.
Speaking on the need for early screening, Dr Jaskaran Singh Sethi, Sr. Consultant – Radiation Oncology RGCIRC, said, “Cancer is a potentially curable disease if caught early so an early check-up is a must. Unfortunately two-thirds of the patients that visit us are at an advanced stage. Lump in the neck, any ulcer in the mouth that is not healing, change of voice, difficulty in swallowing could be symptoms of head & neck cancer. “
Chewing tobacco is a leading cause of oral cancer. Sharp tooth in mouth for a long lime is also a cause of oral cancer.
“New techniques of radiation have made it easier to treat cancer. Now with the help of new radiation techniques such as IMRT and IGRT we can hit the target (tumour) precisely and at the same time save the normal surrounding organs so there is minimum morbidity and maximum effect,” added Dr Sethi.