Pune: Though cervical and breast cancer are the most prevalent cancers among women, cervical cancer incidents have come down to just two per cent in the last 10 years, while breast cancer has nearly doubled, said cancer experts from the city on the eve of World Cancer Day, celebrated worldwide on February 4.
Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Shona Nag, Head of Medical Oncology at Jehangir Hospital said that breast cancer cases are at an all time high. “Cervical cancer strangely has decreased remarkably. Our state is still struggling with oral cancers due to tobacco use. The best way to take care of our survivors is to treat them equally and integrate them back into society. In my opinion, they should be ambassadors to spread the word that cancer can be cured,” said Nag.
Dr Sudeep Gupta, Professor of Medical Oncology at Tata Memorial Hospital, said that there is an increase in breast cancer and decrease in cervical cancer in both urban and rural areas. “Increasing incidents of lung cancer is also seen in women. An increase in oral and head and neck cancers is also seen. There is a need to make lifestyle changes which address tobacco addiction and obesity. There is also a need to emphasise physical activity and safe sexual practices,” said Gupta.
Elaborating on various factors which could be playing a role in the delayed diagnosis of breast cancer, Dr Tushar Patil, Consultant, Medical Oncology at Columbia Asia Hospital, Pune said that stigma related to the disease or its diagnosis plays a contributory factor. “The prevalent gender bias in patriarchal societies means women tend to compromise on their own health, keeping the husband, children, and family health and welfare first. Financial limitations, especially in economically weaker sections, prevent them from visiting a doctor unless something serious happens. The early signs therefore are missed, diagnosis is delayed and chances of survival drops drastically,” said Patil.
Dr Snita Sinukumar, Consultant Surgical Oncology, Columbia Asia Hospital, said that the symptoms of cervical cancer should be monitored. “Symptoms include vaginal bleeding, unusual vaginal discharge and unusual changes in menstrual cycle. It is caused by infection from human papillomavirus virus, and due to delayed medical consultation, the cancer is being diagnosed late in women,” said Sinukumar.