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Complementary cancer therapies do more harm than good: Expert

Garlic, ginger and ginkgo pills, for example, can delay the healing of skin wounds when breast cancer spreads, she said.

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Complementary cancer therapies

New Delhi, Nov 14 : A medical expert has said that cancer patients should tell doctors treating them about the herbal products they may be taking since some ingredients could affect their treatment.

Maria Joao Cardoso, the head breast surgeon at the Champalimaud Cancer Centre in Lisbon, Portugal, said that there was no evidence that herbal therapies or creams worked.

If in doubt, it is best not to take anything, she added.

Garlic, ginger and ginkgo pills, for example, can delay the healing of skin wounds when breast cancer spreads, she said.

“Doctors need to be more proactive about asking their patients what else they are taking when they are being treated for cancer,” Cardoso told the BBC.

She said that it is particularly important that patients always check with their doctors first before trying complementary therapies for cancer that has spread to the skin. This happens in one in five cases of breast cancer, and less in other cancers.

The danger is that many products can interfere with the hormone therapy or chemotherapy treatments, and certain ones prolong the blood clotting process, which can lead to wounds taking longer time to heal and more scarring.

She said that herbal products like green chiretta, feverfew, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, hawthorn, horse chestnut and turmeric slow down clotting.

Cardoso said that it is not surprising that patients and their carers go searching for complementary or alternative treatments that might make a difference.

But she said people should know that “they could end up doing more harm than good”.

“The highest goal in medicine is important to remember: Do no harm,” she said.

As per the website of Cancer Research UK, some complementary therapies might stop conventional treatments working as well as they should.

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Cancer’s Big Five

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cancer types poster

Cancer is one of the most dreaded ailments, and from amongst the very many types of cancer, there are a few that Indian women are predisposed to.

47.2 percent of cancer in women is accounted for amongst the five types. The surprising fact is that these cancers can be prevented by early screening. Early detection and treatment reduces not only the death rate but the quality of life post cancer treatment. Dr Neena Singh, Associate Director, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Fortis La Femme, Delhi sheds some light on this.

She reveals the following are the top five types of cancer in women in India:

  • Breast Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Colorectal cancer

BREAST CANCER :

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in India and accounts for 27 percent of all cases of cancer in women. It is more common in urban areas than rural areas.

High risk factors:

  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Long period of OCP (Oral contraceptive pills)

Screening test for breast cancer:

Self-examination of the breasts. If any abnormality found like lump, pain or change in shape, consult a doctor who would examine clinically if it is cancer.

  • Mammography is done which can detect small lesions.
  • MRI Breast is done for staging the disease.
  • Treatment at early stages carries good prognosis.

CERVICAL CANCER

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in India in women accounting 22.86 percent of all cancer cases in women. It is more common in rural women than urban women.

Risk Factors:

  • Young age at first intercourse (less than 16 years)
  • Multiple Sexual partners
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Human papillomavirus infection (HPV)
  • Immunosuppression

Screening test for cervical cancer:

Any abnormal symptoms like abnormal vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge and contact bleeding (bleeding after intercourse) report to a gynecologist who would do a clinical examination and do some test on cervix.

  • Visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA)
  • Visual inspection with legal Iodine (VILI)
  • Magnified VI! Under colposcopy
  • Exfoliative cytology (Pap smear)-is gold standard for screening.
  • HPV-DNA testing

Do Cervical biopsy for confirmation. Early detection and treatment have very good prognosis.

Prevention by prophylactic vaccinations in childhood.

UTERINE CANCER (CANCER OF UTERUS)

Uterine cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the uterus in its lining called the endometrium. Hence also named as endometrial carcinoma.

Risk Factors:

It is an estrogen dependent cancer. Persistent unopposed stimulation of endometrium with estrogen is the single most important factor for development of cancer endometrium:

Polycystic ovaries

  • Granulosa cell tumor of the ovary which secret estrogen
  • Hormone replacement therapy-unopposed estrogen therapy
  • Early onset of periods & late menopause (after the age of 50)
  • Age: – 75 percent women are post-menopausal

Nulliparity

  • Obesity, Hypertension & Diabetes (corpus cancer syndrome)
  • Tamoxifen therapy given in breast cancer
  • Endometrial hyperplasia especially atypical
  • Following radiation exposure to the pelvis
  • Family history of cancer uterus breast, ovary & colon

Screening test for uterine cancer:

If any irregularity in menstrual cycle, post-menopausal bleeding, contact bleeding and unhealthy vaginal discharge report to a gynecologist who would do

  • Clinical examination
  • Transvaginal sonography (TVS) to know endometrial thickness or irregularity.
  • MRI pelvis can be done for more details
  • Fractional curettage of uterus for histopathology examination or Hysteroscopy & directed biopsy from suspicious area. Early diagnosis & treatment has very good prognosis.

OVARIAN CANCER

Ovarian cancer constitutes 15-20 percent of all genital cancers. 85-90 percent of all cancers are epithelial in origin. Germ cell constitutes 5-7 percent.

Risk Factors:

Unfortunately, ovarian cancer doesn’t produce any specific symptoms. By the time symptoms appear its already in advanced stages. However, if patients have pain in the abdomen, back ache, indigestion, bloating not responding to basic treatment and lasts for more than two weeks then consult a gynecologist.

Screening test for uterine cancer:

No specific screening method is available. Doctor would do a pelvic examination to feel for ovarian mass.

  • Transvaginal sonography (TVS) to confirm ovarian mass solid or cystic.
  • Blood test like CA125 which is found raised in ovarian cancer.
  • CT Scan /MRI to know spread of cancer

Treatment:

Early diagnosis and treatment carry good prognosis.

COLORECTAL Cancer

When a cancerous growth originates in the colon and then spreads to the rectum, it leads to colorectal cancer. The risk of colorectal cancer is higher after the age of fifty years.

Risk Factors:

  • Smoking
  • Fat rich diet
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Colitis
  • Family history of colorectal cancer or polyp
  • Non residual diet
  • Chronic constipation

Screening test for Colon Cancer:

  • Frank blood in stools
  • Fecal occult blood test is positive
  • Double contrast barium enema (DCBE)
  • CT Scan
  • Colonoscopy
  • Stool DNA test
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Health

Advisory issued to Indians visiting China after virus outbreak

According to the WHO, the situation is still evolving and preliminary investigations suggest a link to the seafood market.

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Japan China Pneumonia

New Delhi, Jan 17 : The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday issued an advisory for travellers visiting China in the wake of the Novel Coronavirus outbreak in the neighbouring country.

The advisory said: “Travellers to China should follow simple public health measures at all times. They should observe good personal hygiene, practice frequent hand washing with soap, follow respiratory etiquette, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness, such as cough, runny nose etc. Avoid contact with live animals and consumption of raw/undercooked meat. Avoid travel to farms, live animal markets or where animals are slaughtered. Wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose.”

As on January 11, 41 Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) confirmed infection case have been reported from China, of which one has died. One travel related case each has been reported in Thailand and Japan.

The clinical signs and symptoms are mainly fever with a few patients having difficulty in breathing. The mode of transmission is unclear as of now. However, so far there is little evidence of significant human-to-human transmission.

The advisory also said: “All travellers to China, Wuhan city in particular, to monitor their health closely. Cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing, Don’t plan travel if sick. Seek medical attention promptly.”

The travellers were also advised to inform the airlines crew about illness and seek a mask from the crew and avoid close contact with family members or fellow travellers if they feel sick on flight, while travelling back to India.

The ministry confirmed that they are closely monitoring the situation after the reports of 41 confirmed cases of the nCoV including one death from Wuhan, China on January 5.

According to the WHO, the situation is still evolving and preliminary investigations suggest a link to the seafood market.

Health Secretary Preeti Sudan said: “We are regularly reviewing the public health preparedness in the country since the news broke out. The public health preparedness is being reviewed on day-to-day basis and the core capacities to timely detect and manage importation of the nCoV into the country are being strengthened further.”

She added: “The situation is being monitored in consultation with WHO and keeping in view the limited human to human transmission the risk at global level is perceived to be low.”

In view of precautionary measures, the Ministry of Health has ordered screening of international travellers from China at designated airports namely, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata through thermal scanners.

State governments have also been advised to take necessary precautions. The Ministry is also in touch with the Ministry of External Affairs, and the immigration officers at the airports have been sensitised.

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Health

Next-gen radiation therapy for cancer patients now in India

The best outcomes are for treatment of bilateral breast cancer, paediatric oncology and all other forms of cancer.

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Radixact X9 Tomotherapy

New Delhi, Jan 17 : Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi on Friday launched the most advanced version of TomoTherapy Radixact X9– the smartest radiation therapy to treat the most complicated cancer tumours.

Tomotherapy comes as a boon for cancer treatment since it has a higher degree of precision, speed and accuracy.

Patients find it more comfortable to be treated under this technology owing to the rotational helical mechanism, also the set-up time is lesser as compared to other therapies.

“The launch of the most advanced version of the Tomotherapy technology is truly a remarkable development in the field of Radiation Oncology. This will be a revolutionary step in the treatment of cancer. With this system we can deliver both fractionated radiotherapy as well as SBRT and Radiosurgery,” said Suneeta Reddy, Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group.

“The new generation radiation machine and our highly experienced team enables us to move ahead towards precise and personalised care, therefore improving the quality of life of cancer patients and ensure better clinical outcomes,” Reddy added.

Tomotherapy is effective in treating cancer, irrespective of the stage, especially multiple metastasis.

The best outcomes are for treatment of bilateral breast cancer, paediatric oncology and all other forms of cancer.

“We are taking precision and excellence to the next level with the revolutionary Radixact-X9: Tomotherapy, system powered by state-of-the-art 3D CT imaging. It uses a linear accelerator to deliver high-dose radiation to the tumour with sub-millimetre precision,” said P ShivaKumar, Managing Director, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.

“With the most recent introduction of Radixact X9, radiation oncology has reached a new horizon in the race of effective curative treatment for cancer. Large field size can be targeted at once. 1.35 cms of length can be targeted without repositioning the machine,” ShivaKumar added.

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