Dr Ajit Singh Puri shares major warning signals of cancer for its early detection on World Cancer Day -Puri
Jaswant Singh Puri/ February 4,2023
World Cancer Day was established on 4 February, 2000 at the World Cancer Summit for the New Millennium which was held in Paris. Cancer has been the leading cause of mortality. The best method to survive cancer is to identify it early and eradicate it entirely from the body before the malignant cells spread to other parts of body. Cancer screening tests can help in the early detection of the disease.
World Cancer Day aims to promote awareness on cancer as a public health issue and improving access to quality care, screening, early detection, treatment and care. The theme for the World Cancer Day for 2022-2024 is “Close the Care Gap.” Every single person has the ability to make a difference, large or small, so that health community can make real progress in reducing the global impact of cancer. Many bollywood celebrities like Anurag Basu, Sonali Bendre, Manisha Koirala, Tahira Kashyap, Rakesh Roshan have survived from cancer because of their will power and timely detection of cancer.
Dr. Ajit Singh Puri, M.D, DSc (Honoris Causa), FICP, FCAI, FICA worked as Senior Consultant and Head, Department of Medicine at Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Hospital, Ludhiana for a long time. It was founded in the fond memory of Mohan Dai Oswal, wife of Late Vidya Sagar Oswal. Dr. Ajit Singh Puri has written a world acclaimed book ‘How to Prevent Common Diseases’ published by Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi. The book carries a ‘Foreword’ by Lord Walton of Detchant, TD, MA, MD, DSc, FRCP, Former Professor of Neurology and Dean of Medicine, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Former President, British Medical Association, Royal Society of Medicine and General Medical Council, Former Warden, Green College, Oxford, Former President, World Federation of Neurology. The book carries a chapter on ‘Cancers and their Prevention’ which is highly informative and knowledge bearing for the people and the medical practitioners.
Some of the very useful excerpts from the chapter are given below:
“Cancers are growths which may develop in any part of the body. Their exact cause is still unknown. The growth spreads locally and soon to distant organs, either by blood or lymphatics.
An early diagnosis is of paramount necessity in the treatment of such malignant disorders. Cancerous growth is usually painless in the beginning. By the time the patient seeks medical advice, the disease might have reached an advanced stage. Hence, it is highly desirable to detect the early growth of cancerous origin before it is too late.” Broadly speaking, the following are the major warning signals according to Dr. Ajit Singh Puri:
- Persistently troublesome cough; blood in sputum; unusually hoarse voice.
- Persistent indigestion, difficulty in swallowing.
- Continuous pain in abdomen – gastric/duodenal peptic ulcer; inflamed gallbladder (cholecystitis)/gallstones (cholelithiasis).
- Change in bowel habits (i.e. alternating constipation and diarrhoea); blood in stool.
- Thickening/lump in breast or anywhere else; bleeding or discharging from nipple.
- Nodule/lump or change in the size of testis; swelling or feeling of heaviness/discomfort in testis.
- Swelling/nodule in connection with thyroid/parotid gland.
- Blood in urine; change in bladder habits.
- Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge; contact bleeding after intercourse.
- Severe recurrent headaches with or without vomiting, particularly worsening while coughing or bending forward and downward; epileptic fits; neurological deficits or unexplained psychological symptoms.
- A skin/mouth sore/ulcer that does not heal; old scar that repeatedly heals and breaks down.
- Obvious changes in wart, mole, birthmark or any other spot on the skin.
- Glandular swelling/s in the neck, armpit or groin etc.
- Persistent pallor of eyes (jaundice).
- Loss of weight without any obvious cause.
- Unexplained low grade fever, or loss of appetite.
Self-examination of the Breasts and the Testes
“Everyone can examine herself/himself for the early detection of two important common cancers, viz., cancer of the breast in females, and cancer of the testes in males. The steps in this regard are as follows:
- Self-examination of the Breasts
- See if there is any change in the shape of either of your breasts. You should stand in front of a long wall mirror for comparing the shape.
- Feel your breast one by one with the help of your fingers for any thickening/lump in any of them.
- Also squeeze the nipple of each of your breasts, and see if there is any bleeding or discharge.
- Self-examination of the Testes
- Palpate each of your testes lightly with the help of your fingers and the thumb. The examination should not be done in a cold atmosphere as the skin of the testes constricts in the cold.
- Look for any change in the size of the testes or a nodule/lump in any of them”.
Malignancy and use of Female Hormones
“There is a word of great caution that a female should not take hormones indiscriminately. These should only be taken with the advice of a specialist for the period specified. Even when the woman is on an oral contraceptive, a regular check-up of blood pressure is required, as all oral contraceptives cause a significant rise in blood pressure. Even a heart attack/stroke may be precipitated with the use of hormones. Also, the hormones may cause an increase in blood sugar levels, various blood lipids and body weight”.
“It is important to introduce mass vaccination programme where vaccine can help in the goal of preventing cancer of any type. In this context Hepatitis B vaccine needs a special reference. This vaccine is advocated for the prevention of chronic hepatitis that may lead to liver cancer. On similar lines more vaccines are being developed e.g. HPV vaccine for the prevention of cancer of the cervix and Helicobacter Pylori vaccine for the prevention of gastric cancer.”
Dr. Ajit Singh Puri lays emphasis on the following measures to prevent cancer.
General Measures for Prevention of Cancer
- Avoid smoking and tobacco chewing.
- Alcoholic beverages should be generally avoided. However, if one drinks, one should consume it only in moderation.
- In women, oestrogen therapy should be taken for the duration prescribed by the specialist.
- To avoid radiation, X-rays and CT scans should only be done when necessary.
- It is recommended to take high fibre (green vegetables, fruits, whole wheat/cereals), and low-fat diet (less intake of saturated fats like ghee, butter, cream, egg-yolk etc.)
- One should try to avoid living in highly – polluted areas.
- Too much sunlight is also to be avoided.
- One should take regular exercise as it significantly reduces the risk of cancers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is the health authority for the United Nations. It works with organizations such as the International Union against Caner (UICC) to promote ways to lessen the global burden of cancer. There are different symbols to promote the fight against different types of cancer. The pink ribbon is a global symbol of breast cancer awareness, orange ribbon signifies child cancer awareness. The Daffodil which the American Cancer Society depicts is a symbol of hope.
Note: This article is dedicated to Smt. Alka Puri, M.A. (Hindi, B.Ed.). She was the Secretary, Ladies Club, Punjabi University, Patiala during the tenure of Vice-Chancellor Dr. S.S. Johal who was awarded with prestigious award Padma Bhushan in 2004. Smt. Alka Puri was the wife of Dr. Ajit Singh Puri and mother of Jaswant Singh Puri.
(The views expressed are personal)