Dr. Dipayan Nandy Debunks 5 Cancer Myths: Expert Insights on Breaking Taboos
Cancer encompasses a complex spectrum of diseases marked by the uncontrollable proliferation of abnormal cells, resulting in the development of masses or tumors. This pathology can manifest in any organ or tissue throughout the body, sustaining itself by extracting nutrients from surrounding tissues, infiltrating adjacent regions, and potentially spreading to other organs through metastasis, giving rise to additional new tumors.
Burden of cancer
Alarming global statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) underscore the severity of the issue.
- In 2022, approximately 20 million new cases of cancer were reported worldwide, with 10 million succumbing to the disease.
- Shockingly, the data indicates that 1 in 5 individuals may face cancer during their lifetime, with 1 in 9 men and 1 in 12 women succumbing to its effects.
Cancer in India
India, too, faces a significant burden, with about 1.4 million new cancer cases reported in 2022 alone. The incidence of cancer is escalating persistently in the country, with one in nine people projected to develop cancer in their lifetime.
In light of these alarming statistics, there is an urgent need for action and heightened awareness. Recognizing this imperative, The Aartery Chronicles sought insights from a distinguished cancer expert, Dr. Dipayan Nandy, Consultant Oncosurgeon at Kailash Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, Goraj, Vadodara.
Dr. Nandy, with his accolades including an MBBS (Gold Medal), MS General Surgery (Gold Medal), and MCh Surgical Oncology (Gold Medal), provides valuable perspectives on the prevailing myths and taboos surrounding cancer.
In our discussion of five commonly raised myths by patients, Dr. Nandy’s expertise takes center stage. Acknowledged for his patient-centric approach, Dr. Nandy, a revered figure among patients, skillfully addresses these queries with a composed demeanor
Dispelling 5 Cancer Myths: Expert Insights with Dr. Dipayan Nandy
Myth 1. Is it a genuine concern that radiation exposure from mammograms could lead to cancer?
Dr. Nandy: Mammograms expose a person to small amounts of radiation, which will not cause cancer unless the person has exposure to frequent testing. This exposure is even lesser with newer digital mammography machines. The potential benefits of earlier detection of breast cancer by mammography outweigh the concerns of radiation exposure. Screening mammograms can be done safely once every 3 to 5 years.
Myth 2. Is it true that men can’t get breast cancer?
Dr. Nandy: Men can get breast cancer. Although it is rare, about 1 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed is found in a man. Men get the same types of breast cancers that women do with a lifetime risk of about 1 per 1,000.
Symptoms of male breast cancer are lump or thickening in the breast or underarm area, changes to the skin covering the breast, or nipple discharge. Early detection and treatment can improve the chances of successful treatment and recovery.
Myth 3. A small cancer tumor isn’t dangerous…
Dr. Nandy: The prognosis or outcome of cancer is determined by several factors, including the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer, the cancer’s grade, and certain traits of the cancer cells. The size of the tumor is one of the factors that affect prognosis, but it is not the only factor. For example, a small tumor may be more aggressive than a larger tumor, and a large tumor may be less aggressive than a smaller tumor.
But in general, smaller tumors are easier to treat, and hence they must not be ignored and treatment started at the earliest to maximize the chances of a favorable outcome.
Myth 4. “Vasectomy can cause prostate cancer”. Is there any validity to this belief that a vasectomy can be linked to prostate cancer?
Dr. Nandy: A controversial question that has been debated for decades, but there is no strong evidence to link vasectomy with an increased risk of prostate cancer. There are no clear reasons for a possible association, and any incidental association may be due to other factors that are not related to vasectomy. Therefore, the risk of prostate cancer should not be a major concern for men who are considering a vasectomy as a reliable method of birth control. However, it is advisable to consult with your doctor about the benefits and risks of vasectomy and to have regular screening for prostate cancer as recommended by the guidelines.
Myth 5. Cancer is a contagious disease, so do we need to keep a patient in isolation?
Dr. Nandy: Cancer is not a contagious disease. One cannot catch cancer from someone else by close contact, sex, kissing, touching, sharing meals, or breathing the same air. A person’s cancer cells are not able to survive in the body of another healthy person, because their immune system will destroy those cells.
However, some infections like Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Hepatitis B virus (HBV) are contagious and they can increase a person’s risk of developing certain types of cancer. Therefore, it is important to get protection from these infections by vaccination, practicing safe sex, and avoiding exposure to blood or body fluids from infected people.
The Aartery Chronicles extends its gratitude to Dr. Nandy for generously sharing his time and providing valuable insights into the myths and taboos surrounding cancer.
Contributors: Dr. Dipayan Nandy,
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