We live in a city of awe-inspiring advancements in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment and yet many are denied basic care. “World Cancer Day” reminds us of the global emergency that is cancer and how each of us plays our part in controlling the disease. World over oncology community believes, that every one of us (patient, caregiver, health care worker, social worker, leader, worker) out there, has an ability to make a difference, big or small, provided we recognize and learn the gaps in cancer care in our country.
Cancer treatment amidst the COVID pandemic has further had a considerable negative impact on care delivery and cancer screening in India. We must encourage and support patients being diagnosed with cancer and those on active treatment to access timely oncology services and when possible, get their vaccine shot. If we can welcome the COVID vaccine jab, then why shy away from the cervix cancer vaccine shot for young females (age of 9-45 years).
Around the world, women and girls suffer from discrimination as a result of misogyny, stereotypes and expected gender roles. Stigma surrounding cervical and breast cancers can make women reluctant to seek cancer screening. Men also face the negative effects of gender discrimination. Social norms surrounding masculinity may make them less willing to discuss health concerns. Cultural and religious contexts should not limit the timely access to cancer care. By creating awareness, and talking about the disease we can help to reduce fear, stigma and discrimination, shift perceptions and strengthen support for people with cancer.
Ageism is pervasive and entrenched in our society. Elderly diagnosed with cancer are heavily dependent on their family and caregiver for decision making, finances and social support. How old you are shouldn’t decide the quality of cancer care you receive, yet this is the reality for many. Recognising the gap of this inequality, creating awareness, and services designed especially to respond to the needs of older adults can help.
A substantial percentage of cancers are attributed to lifestyle disorders such as tobacco-related lung cancer, obesity-related breast and endometrial cancers. We need to create awareness for a healthy lifestyle, regular physical exercise and tobacco/alcohol cessation.
It is hard struck thought, that cancer treatment is costly and unaffordable in our country and even if you can afford it, surgical expertise and drugs to manage this disease are better in the western world. We shall take the help of social media and guide patients to reach the right doctor at the right place, and then there are no reasons to turn the above thought into a misbelief.
All the best currently available cancer treatments are the result of previous clinical trials. In order to find new, better cancer treatments, sometimes access to clinical trials are necessary. These trials are conducted globally in many countries, monitored directly by government regulatory authorities and provide treatment free of cost. We shall educate people and make them aware so that they can timely access the right clinical trials for themselves.
The end of cancer treatment can be stressful, either socially, emotionally and or financially for every individual. To begin this new normal is a challenge and let us join hands to provide a positive attitude and a supportive environment to every cancer survivor around us both on a personal or professional front.
#Close the Cancer Gap #Act Now, for a cancer-free world tomorrow.
Dr. Satinder Kaur, Clinical Lead and Senior Consultant – Gynaecology – Oncology, Oncology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi