Tuesday August 21, 2018

World Cancer Day special: Fight cancer with hope and positive attitude

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New Delhi: Being diagnosed with cancer at a prime age with flying dreams and a family to look after can be earth-shattering for most people. But when it comes to facing the stark reality, whom does one blame for the slow but certain decay of cells and tissues in your body.

At a time when health practitioners globally are becoming more certain they can cure any form of cancer (depending on the stage of discovery), the real fight for cancer-stricken people is to choose between two realities: Embrace the situation with humility and prepare themselves for the long-drawn medical procedures or give up and let it progress.

“If a person is unfortunate to get cancer, the most important thing is to maintain a positive attitude. Further, he or she should identify people from family or friends who will be standing with him or her throughout the procedures,” Dr. Ajit Saxena, consultant urologist and andrologist at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in the capital, told IANS.

“Next is to search for the best oncologist for the particular cancer treatment, depending on the organ affected. Whatever be the situation, it is best to consider things rationally, apply the mind to find the best treatment available and fight it out,” Dr Saxena said.

The next stage is to connect with cancer support groups online or offline to prepare yourself for the battle ahead.

“Life is priceless and there should be no option to give it up. Help in one form or the other can be offered to all patients at any stage of cancer. We may enable them to meet realistic goals and lead a better quality of life given the situation they are faced with,” Dr. Harit Chaturvedi, chairman, Max Institute of Oncology at Max Hospitals, emphasized.

Fully aware that you have been diagnosed with cancer, do not just go on blaming your fate. While more and more triggers are becoming increasingly known, it is still difficult to pinpoint one cause for any particular cancer.

Some of the known associated factors, however, are unhealthy lifestyle, tobacco, and alcohol consumption, viral infections, family history, and, of course, ageing.

“It is a consequence of the interplay of multiple factors such as bad habits, bad lifestyle, ageing, obesity, environmental, and genetic mutations,” notes Dr Sanjay Dudhat, head of surgical oncology from Nanavati Super Specialty Hospital in Mumbai.

If a patient is diagnosed with cancer, the first thing he or she requires is counselling. Proper disclosure of diagnosis, correcting patients’ myths about cancer, and explaining the proper treatment strategies to the patient and the relatives result in better acceptance and also reduces mental trauma.

“Proper treatment along with boosting the morale of the patient will get better results. So do not ever give up and fight cancer, regardless,” Dr Dudhat adds.

For those who are healthy and the disease does not run in the family, making simple changes can result in saying goodbye to cancer.

“Screening! Screening! Screening! Early diagnosis of any cancer makes all the difference between life and death,” says Dr Saxena, also a pioneer in robotic surgery (urology).

“In the case of prostate cancer, a simple blood test can detect early stages. Whole body scan can pick up early cancer stages. This is important particularly in cases where there is a family history of cancer,” he advises.

According to Dr Sidarth Sahni from department of surgical oncology at Indraprastha Apollo, women should be aware of complications in the breast.

“Every woman, irrespective of family history, needs to have a mammogram done every year after age 40 as breast cancer is the fastest growing disease in women in India,” he told IANS.

In middle age, avoid smoking and tobacco, cut alcohol consumption, hit the gym or join a neighborhood yoga and meditation session followed by brisk walk. And do not forget adding fruits and vegetables to your grocery list.

Maintain healthy weight and be physically active, get immunized against Hepatitis B and HPV viruses, have safe and protected sex and opt for regular health check ups, are some of the other steps doctors suggest.

For those diagnosed with cancer, reading “Being Mortal” helps. It’s a highly-acclaimed book by Dr Atul Gawande, a New York-based surgeon that carries several moving stories about his family, friends, and patients describing how someone could better live with age-related or otherwise serious illnesses.

“Arriving at an acceptance of one’s mortality and a clear understanding of the limits and the possibilities of medicine is a process, not an epiphany,” he writes.

Above all, wear a positive attitude. If the cancer has entered your life, give it a tough competition with a smile, grit, and determination.

“I strongly believe that life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but about learning how to dance in the rain,” Dr Chaturvedi of Max Institute says. (Nishant Arora, IANS)

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Researchers Unveil the Power of Turmeric in Fighting Cancer

Curcumin is also known to exhibit anti-cancer properties, but its poor solubility in water had impeded curcumin's clinical application in cancer

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Indian-American researchers unleash turmeric's power to fight cancer. Pixabay

A team of Indian-American researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and at the University of Utah at Salt Lake City, has used an ingenious process to enable curcumin to kill cancer cells.

Curcumin is the active ingredient of turmeric (haldi), the ubiquitous kitchen spice that gives curry its yellow color. Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb because of its powerful anti-inflammatory and strong antioxidant property.

Curcumin is also known to exhibit anti-cancer properties, but its poor solubility in water had impeded curcumin’s clinical application in cancer. A drug needs to be soluble in water as otherwise it will not flow through the bloodstream.

Despite decades of research, the development of efficient strategies that can effectively deliver poorly water-soluble curcumin to cancer cells had remained a challenge.

A team headed by Dipanjan Pan, associate professor of bioengineering at UIUC, has now found a way out.

“Curcumin’s medicinal benefit can be fully appreciated if its solubility issue is resolved,” Pan told this correspondent in an e-mail.

turmeric
Indian-American researchers unleash turmeric’s power to fight cancer. Pixabay

Pan’s laboratory collaborated with Peter Stang at the University of Utah on ways to be able to render curcumin soluble, deliver it to infected tumors and kill the cancer cells.

Because platinum is a commonly used cancer therapeutic agent in the clinic, the researchers decided to experiment with a drug consisting of a combination of platinum and curcumin.

“It is a combination of clever chemistry and nano-precipitation utilising host guest chemistry,” Pan explained. “The sophisticated chemistry leads to self-assembled hierarchical structure that drives the solubility of curcumin and simultaneously delivers an additional anticancer agent, i.e. platinum. The combined therapeutic effect — of curcumin and platinum — is lethal for the cancer cells.”

The team has reported its work in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” in the US.

According to their report, the metallocyclic complex created using platinum “not only enabled curcumin’s solubility, but proved to be 100 times more effective in treating various cancer types such as melanoma and breast cancer cells than using curcumin and platinum agents separately”.

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“Our results demonstrate that curcumin works completely in sync with platinum and exerts synergistic effect to show remarkable anticancer properties,” says the report. “The platinum-curcumin combination kills the cells by fragmenting its DNA.”

“Extensive animal studies are in progress in my laboratory, including in rodents and pigs,” Pan said. His team also hopes to prove that this method will be effective in killing cancer stem cells — the birth place of cancer cells — thereby preventing the recurrence of cancer.

Pan’s team included post-doctoral researcher Santosh Misra at UIUC, and Sougata Datta, Manik Lal Saha, Nabajit Lahiri, Janis Louie, and Peter J. Stang from the University of Utah. (IANS)