Health And Family

Cancer prevention and early detection

WHAT’S UP DOC? - Dr. Tranquilino Elicaño Jr. - The Philippine Star

As we start the observance of Cancer Consciousness Week, let us emphasize the importance of cancer prevention and early detection in the battle against this dreaded disease. Although not all cancers are preventable, there are certain cancers that may be prevented by observing the following measures:

1. Avoid smoking cigarettes. If people who are already addicted to cigarette smoking cannot stop their smoking completely and abruptly, then they are strongly advised to carry out the following suggestions:

A. Markedly reduce the number of cigarettes smoked.

B. Do not inhale the smoke. If inhaling the smoke cannot be stopped, then reduce the depth of inhalation and reduce the frequency of inhalation.

C. Do not smoke the cigarette up to the very end but rather discard it just after taking a few puffs.

D. Select the cigarette with the lowest toxic contents. The toxic contents level of all cigarette brands sold in the Philippines were already published.

E. Select cigarettes with filter tips and whenever possible use an additional extra filter.

F. Switch to pipe or cigar smoking.

G. Just like former President Fidel Ramos, do not light up. This is not the ideal manner to control the ill-effects of smoking but it is aimed at those who are apparently concerned about their smoking but feel incapable of stopping. By the way, avoid inhaling passive smoke in enclosed poorly ventilated rooms.

2. Do not take alcoholic drink excessively since this is related to liver and esophageal cancers.

3. Watch your diet. Avoid eating very salty, very hot, very spicy and heavily smoked foods as well as those which contain large amounts of salitre since these are linked to stomach cancer. Cancer of the colon may be prevented by taking food which have high bulk or fiber content. Do not eat moldy food since these may lead to liver cancer.

4. Personal hygiene and cleanliness when practiced by women reduce the incidence of cancer of the cervix. Men who wash and keep their penis clean have a lower chance of developing cancer of this organ. Incidentally, it has been shown that women whose husbands are circumcised (just like the Jews in Israel) have a lower incidence of cervical cancer.

5. Oral hygiene and dental care are important factors in preventing cancers of the oral cavity. Chewing of betel nut and lime as well as smoking of cigarettes with the lighted end inside the mouth should be avoided. Those who develop white patches in their mouth should be avoided. Those who develop white patches in their mouth should take high doses of Vitamins A, B, C and E.

6. Avoid skin exposure to the noonday sunlight. Warts and moles which are in areas that are constantly being irritated or under pressure should be removed specially if they start to enlarge, change in color and bleed. Workers whose occupation brings them in constant contact with chemicals and irritating substances should cleanse their skin frequently.

7. Avoid frequent and prolonged exposures to substances such as asbestos and chromates which are known to cause cancers.

8. Those in high-risk groups should be vaccinated for the prevention of hepatitis B since this condition may in certain instances lead to liver cancer.

9. Women should avoid wearing lift-up bras with bone or metal support very frequently. Nursing mothers must breastfeed their infants whenever possible.

10. Men and women over 40 years of age should undergo yearly stool and rectal examinations for early detection of cancer of the colon and rectum. Barium enema x-ray or recto-sigmoid colonoscopy as well as CEA laboratory exam may also be carried out. Elderly men over 60 years of age, should have their prostate examined and if suspected to have prostate cancer should also undergo PSA lab. Exam.

11. Women during the early stage of pregnancy should avoid taking Diethylstilbestrol while women who have menopaused should never take estrogen hormones without the close supervision of their attending physician.

Since many cancers are curable if detected early, we must take note of the more common signs and symptoms of cancer such as:

1. Bleeding or abnormal discharge from any body opening, especially the mouth, vagina, rectum and urinary bladder.

2. Any sore or wound that does not heal and increases in size, particularly in the lips, tongue, ears, eyelids and genitals.

3. A painless lump or thickening that persists especially in the breast, tongue, lips, neck, armpit and groin.

4. A change in bowel or bladder habits particularly after the age of 40 years.

5. Persistent coughing, hoarseness or sore throat.

6. Persistent indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.

7. Changes in size, color and bleeding of a mole.

8. Unintended rapid loss of weight, continued unexplained fever, feeling of weakness or fatigue and pain.

I would however like to emphasize that these are just warning signs of possible cancer. It does not necessarily mean that if someone has any of the above, he or she definitely has cancer. However, they should not delay consulting their physician for more detailed examination and follow-up.












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