Cancer is the second most common disease in India responsible for maximum mortality with about 0.3 million deaths per year. The causes of such high incidence rates of these cancers may be both internal (genetic, mutations, hormonal, poor immune conditions) and external or environmental factors (food habits, industrialization, over growth of population, social etc.)
Age is the strongest risk factor in the development of cancer. Though the relationship between cancer and ageing is unclear, the increased risk of cancer in old age is possibly due to: poor cellular repair mechanisms, activation of genes that stimulate cancer and suppression of genes that prevent cancer, decline in surveillance against cancer and life time exposure to carcinogens.
There are certain cancers which mostly occur after the age of 50 years. These include head and neck cancer and cancers of the female genital tract, upper and lower gastrointestinal tract, pancreas and prostate. Half of the breast and haematological malignancies are encountered after the age of 60 years.
TIPS FOR CANCER PREVENTION:
- Maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce the risk of cancer.
- Physical activity of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity each day should be done by all adults.
- Women over the age of 40 should have a screening mammogram every year till the age of 70 at least.
- Various screening tests for example Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, Colonoscopy every 10 years, Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years, CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years, etc. should be used by both men and women after the age of 50 years.
- Women aged 21 to 29, should have a Pap test every 3 years.
- Every individual, irrespective of their age, should check their skin for new moles that are large, or irregular; contain more than one colour, or change colour.
- Regularly visit you family doctor and ask for preventive measures.
- Women over 20 years should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) regularly.