Becoming an Oncologist was one of my childhood dreams.I still don't know how that really 'weird (those days,Oncology/Radiotherapy wasn't actually a much sought after subject even among the M.D. aspirants!)'dream' had got into my head.To be very frank,back then,I really had no idea about either 'Oncology' or 'Cancer' treatment.All I knew was being a Cancer specialist would be a really exciting thing to do in life! But only when I joined the M.B.B.S. course,I realized the amount of dedication and hardwork which is required to be a successful Oncologist.You not only have to deal with patients who are in the most depressing phases of their lives,but also strive your best to bring their lives back to normalcy(which might not be possible always!).
As the renowned Oncologist Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee rightly states in his book,Cancer is indeed the emperor of all maladies!But the sad part is that even in a metropolitan city like Bangalore, the awareness about Cancer and Oncologists among the general public is still far from satisfactory.Since I’m a doctor based out of Bangalore,almost everyday,I get querries from my patients pertaining to Cancer,Oncologists and the Cancer hospitals in Bangalore.(Bangalore has infact got a good number of Oncology institutes and renowned Oncologists).More than the lack of knowledge,it's the half-knowledge about this condition and it's treatment modalities that's more problematic.There are a lot of myths about Cancer,which often hinders the succesful prevention and treatment of this disease.This post is a humble effort from my part to clear the common misconceptions about this dreaded disease.
Myth 1:Cancer is a disease of the rich and the wealthy-Well,though studies have found some association between certain risk factors(which might be more common among the higher socio-economic group)and carcinoma,to call it a rich man's disease is highly inappropriate.From young(certain leukemias) to old(Ca.Prostrate),rich to poor(Carcinoma Lung)Cancer can affect all age groups.
Myth 2:Cancer is not a curable disease-Well,believe it or not,there are malignant neoplasms which are even completely curable.For instance,malignancies like Papillary Carcinoma of Thyroid,can be completely cured,if detected in the early stage of the disease.Earky diagnosis and treatment is the key as far as Cancer treatments are concerned.
Myth 3:All tumours are Cancers- All tumorous growths are not Cancers.There is something called as benign neoplasms(they are the 'safe' tumours with minimal chance of invasion/metastasis).So the moment someone tells you that you have got a tumour growing inside you,don't start panicking.It might be a harmless benign growth in the first place!
Myth 4: You cannot prevent a Cancer: This,I feel is the commonest misconception about Cancer.As I have mentioned before,there are a number of risk factors which are usually associated with cancers.If you can get yourselves away from those risk factors(say,smoking v/s Ca.Lung),you are half-protected from getting a malignancy.Similarly,there are a number of screening tests which will tell you whether you are at a risk.(Pap smear v/s Ca.Cervix,BRCA v/s Ca.Breast)
Myth 5:Some Cancers resolve by themselves: Be very clear about this.Cancerous growths are never self-limiting.You need some type of treatment(radiotherpay/chemotherapy/surgery) to get rid of it.As explained above,early diagnosis and grading is the key for succesful treatment of Cancer.So don't be apprehensive,consult your doctor at the earliest if you think you have got any signs or symptoms which are suggestive of malignancy.
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