World Cancer Day 2024: Unlocking The Power Of Early Detection To Alleviate Cancer Burden
It is imperative to educate people with the knowledge of recognising the symptoms of the disease and the possibilities that early detection presents.
World Cancer Day is observed on February 4 every year
Cancer refers to the abnormal growth of cells that divide uncontrollably. It has the ability to spread from one body part/ organ/ tissue to another. When it comes to cancer care, timing holds paramount importance. Strikingly, breast, oral, cervix, lung, colorectal are the top five most common cancers in India - all of which are treatable if detected early. But unfortunately, for many, the crucial window of early detection remains elusive.
The initial step to addressing the cancer crisis is understanding the underlying factors that contribute to its prevalence. A significant hurdle is the general lack of awareness about the warning signs and symptoms of cancers. Additionally, there is also a deeper challenge as many remain unaware of the necessary interventions that must be initiated at the right time. Cultural sensitivities and privacy concerns further continue to create an invisible barrier to early diagnosis. To add to this, the fear about the repercussions of a positive diagnosis also stops many from taking the necessary steps for timely detection. As a result, an alarming number of cases go unnoticed until it's too late.
The crux of alleviating India's cancer burden rests on many pillars - the most critical of which is raising awareness to ensure timely detection through regular cancer screening. It is imperative to educate audiences right from the grassroots to urban cities and empower them with the knowledge of recognising the symptoms of the disease and the possibilities that early detection presents. The next crucial step is to encourage adoption of regular screenings. Both screenings and cancer care should occupy a prominent place in public health strategies to ensure that cancer screening and treatment is universally accessible, regardless of socioeconomic status or geographic location.
India's cancer care crisis can collectively be addressed with the right investments and commitment towards this cause. While the introduction of structured screening programs is imperative in driving an uptick in India's cancer screening and consequently early detection, collaboration will also help further this mission. Partnerships between governments, philanthropies, healthcare providers and institutions as well as other like-minded organisations can be vital in driving impact at-scale by developing a network of facilities for comprehensive cancer care, right from driving infrastructure and development of a skilled workforce for specialised treatment to organising regular screening and awareness programmes.
Cancer is a disease that affects millions every year, but there is a possibility to significantly reduce the number by early detection of cancer through timely screening.
(Dr. Kailash Sharma, Head - Clinical, Training & Education, Tata Cancer Care Foundation, an initiative of Tata Trusts)
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