Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An interview with V P Gangadhran (Leading oncologist in the country)

 It seems that everything is not fair with the fairer sex as the malady of breast cancer is increasing at an alarming rate in the state. Lack of proper awareness among the patients and the professionals who treat them is cited as one of the major reasons for not being able to take any precautionary step, says Dr V P Gangadharan, who is a leading oncologist in the country.

“The public are not aware of the fact that breast cancer is curable. Despite waiting to investigate the stage which they are in, most of the patients opt for the removal of the breast which is a major blunder,” he says. Most of the breast cancer patients do not know that the diseased organ can be conserved. There is no need to remove the breast unless the cancer is spread to other parts of the body. “There are times when I really felt very bad that many of the patients who had undergone breast removal has not taken any basic tests. The saddest part of it is that there are many professionals who still resort to this conventional way of treatment,” he says.

The best way to detect breast cancer at an early stage is ‘self examination.’ It has to be done by every woman who is above 25 years, Gangadharan says. “Once in three years is advisable for those who belong to the age group 25-35 and monthly check-up is a must for every woman who is above 40,” he says.

Dr Gangadharan says that the costly and the most-sophisticated tool for self-examination is one’s own hand. “Self-examination has become the need of the hour. In the earlier days, such cancer was expected to happen only among women who are above 45 years of age. But today women are alarmingly prone to breast cancer from a very young age.” There are many risk factors which have highly contributed to the present scenario. Hormonal changes, using oral contraceptives, lack of breast feeding are some of the high risk factors. “Infertility treatment is yet another cause as it can bring about a lot of hormonal changes in the female body. Nipple retraction, painless swelling, nipple discharge, colour changes are some of the main symptoms of breast cancer,” he says.

Gangadharan also says that though the technical modalities have increased manifold, the lack of fixed strategy in the hospitals have augmented the trouble. “This disease is detectable, can be screened, partly prevented and of course curable. But the lack of strategy is a major problem.

When you go to a hospital, what they check is just the lipid profile, blood pressure, sugar level and ECG which cannot solve your problem,” he says. Dr Gangadharan gives a message that never jump into a major surgery when you are diagnosed with breast cancer.

by Shalet Jimmy

published in the New Indian Express

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