Meet Your ‘Innocent’ Cancer!

September is Prostate Health Month all over country

Meet Your ‘Innocent’ Cancer!

New Delhi, September 20: It is not a laughing matter at all. Neither to be confused with Innocent, the popular Malayalam film comedian-turned- Member of Parliament (MP), who is a cancer survivor of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The amazing fact is there is a cancer which is also innocent and largely so. And that cancer is that of prostate (also known as manhood gland). Think of a bomb implanted in the lower part of a man’s body which never detonates- a malignant tumour that remains benign till life, unnoticed and untreated.

While I am writing this report I might have this bomb ticking inside me too. And still I may never die of it. But make no mistakes. Prostate cancer is not always innocent. Prostate is a walnut sized gland that is located just below the urinary bladder (a sac like structure that stores urine) and surrounds the urethra (tube that carries urine from bladder to outside).

It is really a strange fact of cancer. Despite great advancement in treatment and many survivors to boot, cancer is still a word of extreme fear. It still sounds like capital punishment. So, when Prof (Dr) P N Dogra, Head of the Department, Urology, AIIMS, used the expression ‘innocent cancer’, health writers had a pleasant surprise- Innocent Cancer! According to him, about 50 percent of prostate cancers are really innocent and not fatal at all. It is not be confused with benign tumour. It is malignant, only that it remains where it is and does not spread.

But Dr. Dogra added in the same breath- ‘but this fact should not distract from the danger of those prostate cancers that have the power to kill like that of any other cancers. He said-‘You can live full life with prostate cancer without being even aware of it. It will never kill you.’

But it is not always the case. Dr. Dogra further said- We need to guard against aggressive prostate cancers which are inflicting so many men already. Even if it is not cancerous, its enlargement with age presents a formidable challenge in old age and urinating becomes a nightmare in old age. So, anyhow, prostate gland is a ticking trouble maker organ inside out body.

It is not for nothing that September is Prostate Health Month In India. But this time it is a different prostrate month in the sense that prostrate itself has come alive to talk to people and tell all about himself and how can make life terrible. In fact, an Indian pharma company Cipla has come out with small booklets both in English and Hindi named ‘Small Gland, Big problem’ as a guide on Prostate Enlargement. In the booklet, an imaginary prostate introduces itself to an old man.

 Prof( Dr.) Anup Kumar, Head of the Department, Urology and Renal Transplant , Safdarjang Hospital, said, ‘ Man need to be wary about aggressive prostate cancers because by 2020 this cancer is going to be second most common cancer in India. September being Prostate Health Month for the health country, it is opportune time to sensitize men about impending danger of prostate cancer. Even if it does not turn into aggressive cancer, its enlargement itself can be hell of a problem for men after 50. It is one of the most distressing post retirement blues. It causes Lower Urinary Tract symptoms (LUTS) and resultant urination problems.’

Dr. Anup further said, ‘As per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and other state cancer registries, prostate cancers account for the second most common cancer in Indian males. The incidence rate in India is 9-10 per/ 100000 population which is highest in Asia but lower than USA and Europe.  Prostate cancer is the sixth leading cause of death among men worldwide. Closer home, prostrate is the second leading site of cancer among males in in large Indian cities  like Delhi, Kolkata,Pune and Thiruvanantpuram  and third leading site of cancer in cities like Banglore and Mumbai. The cancer projection data shows the number of prostate cancers in India would be double by 2020.

Dr. Anup said, ‘Sensing the impending danger of prostate cancer catastrophe, the central government has made Prostate Specific Examination (PSA) examination mandatory. This test is done free of cost in government hospitals like AIIMS, RML and Safdajung Hospital.

Dr. Dogra said, ‘the aggressive prostate cancers are easy to cure compared to other form of cancers and the survival years are upto 15 years unlike in other cancers where cure simply means five years.’ According to him, though this cancer is genetically driven but sedentary life style with obesity can also trigger its chances. Presently, we cannot prevent the prostate cancer practically. Dr. Anup said, ‘over 85 percent of prostate cancers can be cured by medicines while 10-15 percent of them might need surgery’.

Experts advise that all male of over 50 years of age presenting symptoms of Luts to go for annual PSA testing. In case of positive family history screening should start at age of 40 annually. According to them, Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a non cancerous enlargement of this gland. Then it can partly block the urethra. This causes many urination problems. The prevalence of BPH increases with age. By 60 years of age, more than 50 percent of men develop BPH and by the age of 85 years nearly 90 percent of men will have BPH.

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