Raising Awareness on World Cancer Day

February 02, 2016

On February 4th, countries around the world will shed light on the growing issue of cancer and its effects on their citizens’ wellbeing. In honor of this worldwide movement, Bumrungrad International Hospital would like to encourage our current and future patients to make important lifestyle changes to reduce the chances of developing cancer, and to be proactive with health screenings to catch any signs of cancer early on.

Cancer prevention

There are many factors that can influence a person’s chances of getting cancer, and in some cases, no amount of precaution can prevent it from developing. However, studies show that several major lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the chances of developing this disease. Generally speaking, reducing your risk can be done by:

  • Avoiding tobacco: Whether by cigarettes, cigars, or chewing tobacco, using this substance is linked to cancers developing in many regions of the body, most notably in the mouth and lungs.
  • Eating healthy: A diet high in nutritiously dense fruits and vegetables, fiber-containing foods, and limited amounts of processed meats will not only keep your body healthier, but lessen the chance of cancer developing as a result of being overweight.
  • Staying out of the sun: Small doses of sun are needed to produce essential Vitamin D. However, skin cancer can occur as a result of too much exposure to ultraviolet rays. Try avoiding strong, midday sun, and wear clothes to cover up exposed areas or apply sunscreen regularly.
  • Reducing chemical exposure: Whenever possible, reduce your exposure to carcinogens, which are otherwise known as cancer-causing substances. Common substances that cause cancer include radon, asbestos, soot and wood dust, formaldehyde, and arsenic.

Early detection

Cancer is among the leading cause of death and can occur nearly anywhere on the body. However, if patients are proactive in their regular checkups and opt for screenings that can detect cancer early on, the chance of survival increases dramatically. As with any illness, if cancer is discovered in its early stages, it is typically easier to treat and has a higher success rate than if it is discovered later, after more complications have developed.

Common treatments

Treatment series are unique to each patient in regards to length, frequency, and type in order to battle against and beat cancer. However, there are several general treatment types, whether used independently or in conjunction with other treatments, that can help patients fight cancer:

  • Surgery: Physically removing the cancer via laser or blade surgery is a common method in cases where the cancer is isolated and has not spread to other parts of the body. Surgery is also often used to diagnose cancer in the form of biopsies.
  • Chemotherapy: Also known as chemo, this therapy is used to control tumor growth, shrink tumors, and to destroy residual cancer cells left over from surgery. In most cases, a series of chemo drugs are administered intravenously (through a small catheter placed in a vein) that allows the medicine to flow directly into the blood stream, but they can be taken by mouth as well. Chemotherapy exposes the entire body to cancer-fighting drugs.
  • Radiation: Radiation uses high powered energy waves to damage or destroy cancer without harming the nearby healthy cells. This type of therapy is location specific and can target the exact area that needs treatment rather than affecting the entire body.

Additional therapies include, but are not limited to, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and stem cell treatments using bone marrow and umbilical cord blood transplants.

By Dr. Harit Suwanrusme , Oncologist, Horizon Center, Bumrungrad Hospital

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