Early detection can prevent cancer, say experts

Women suffer from breast and cervical cancers; men from lung and oral cancers

NEW DELHI (Taiwan News) -- Thirty percent of total 700,000 people worldwide deaths every year due to cancer can be prevented by simple lifestyle changes and early detection, said Indian-American cancer specialist, Dr Ash K Tewari.

Talking at the 15th Hindustan Times Leadership summit on How to Beat Cancer, Dr Tewari, professor and chair of urology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York city, said "if you begin the fight early, or when it is possible to zap the cells, cancer is treatable... but if you wait for the symptoms, the fight gets difficult."

Dr Madhav Dhodapkar, professor of medicine and immunology at Yale Cancer Centre, said "cancer doesn't develop overnight, it takes eight to 10 years. Cancer cells do not exist in isolation,,...harnessing the immune system against cancer cells allows for a more controlled response," he said. 

Dr Tiwari advised the listeners not to wait for symptoms to appear. Dr Dhodapkar said cancer can be prevented by cutting down on animal fat, red meat, and sugar. "Sugar and salt are also bad for us and we have to cut them out of our diet," he added.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the newly-appointed deputy director of World Health organization, who presided over the session said, prevention is possible by reducing exposure to known risk factors such as tobacco use, obesity, environmental toxins, and getting vaccinated against hepatitis B and HPV virus.  

Breast and cervical cancers in women and lung and oral cancers in men are the leading forms of the disease, she said.