NewZNew (S A S Nagar) : Over 110 senior citizens attended a health seminar on ‘Aging and Cancer’ which was conducted at Max Super Specialty Hospital today. Dr Sajal Kakkar, Consultant, Radiation Oncology was the main speaker at the event. He said that Cancer is a group of conditions where the body cells begin to grow and reproduce in an uncontrolled manner. These cells can then invade and destroy healthy tissues. The cells become cancerous or malignant because of DNA damage, which occur more frequently in elderly age group as DNA repair becomes less active and less efficient.
Talking about how common cancers are in the elderly, Dr Kakkar said that approximately 8, 00,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed in India every year out of which 45-50% of all cancers in male and 35-40% in females occur above age 60. Among people above age of 65 years, there is 10 fold increased incidence of developing cancer as compared to younger individuals, he informed. The common tumours in older adult are Breast, Prostate, Lung, Colon and Lymphoma. He added that “ It is important to be aware of unexplained changes to your body. The typical sign and symptoms include CAUTION :
- Changes in bowel habits – Diarrhoea/constipation for no obvious reasons.
- ASore that doesn’t heal.
- Unusual Bleeding or Discharge – Unexplained blood in urine, stool, between periods, in vomit, cough.
- Thickening or Lump – Consult a doctor if you notice a lump anywhere in your body.
- Indigestion or Difficulty in Swallowing
- Obvious change in wart or mole.
- Nagging Cough/Breathlessness/Hoarseness- If you have had a cough, breathlessness for more than two weeks, or if you had blood in your phlegm.
Discussing on how to reduce your risk of developing cancer: he said that smoking or tobacco use in any form should be avoided, one should be physically active, eat healthy, less calorie, low fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and protect your skin from sun, avoid over exposure. Talking about the treatment modalities Dr Kakkar informed that these are primarily surgical (total removal of tumor, if possible, with adjacent normal looking tissue to take care of microscopic disease), Radiotherapy( which uses X-rays to destroy cancer cells),Systemic Therapy( which uses drugs to destroy cancer cells and includes chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy).
The key to safe and effective management of cancer in older patients is individualization of treatment via analysis of cancer – treatment – and patient related factors. A comprehensive assessment of patient’s age, life expectancy, function and tolerance to treatment as well as patient’s goals for treatment and life are essential to provide best care to the patients in this age group.