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Knowledge At MET

Knowledge At MET

Women and Cancer

Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells. Cancer is the most dreaded diseases that falls under the genre of lifestyle diseases that has rapidly grown.

One of the recent concerns plaguing the field of oncology is the increasing incidences of women who are being diagnosed with cancer. It was estimated that the number of cervical cancer deaths in women in India was likely to rise to 79,000 by the year 2010, while the number of deaths due to breast cancer and oral cancer would rise to 59,000 and 53,000 respectively. The most common are breast, cervical, ovarian and uterine cancer.

The major cause of cancers in women is hormonal imbalance. Estrogen and progesterone are female sex hormones. One of progesterone's most important roles in the body is to balance or oppose estrogen. Other causes include uptake of contraceptives, long term estrogen therapy, hereditary reasons, smoking, presence of uterine fibroids and late pregnancies.

Breast Cancer, which is the second most common cancer makes up for almost nine per cent of all new cancer cases in India. Some symptoms if earlier recognized can prevent fatal conditions including self examinations, changes in nipple shape or unexplained discharge, breast lumps or skin thickening, underarm tenderness or skin changes, dimpling of the skin or changes to breast texture or shape.

Endometrial cancer occurs within uterus and is common among older women who are obese, are on hormone replacement therapy and have stopped ovulating. Symptoms mainly include unusual bleeding or discharge from vagina. If only the uterus is affected, surgical removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) is performed. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are done in later stages.

Most ovarian cancers occur in menopausal women around the age of fifty. Ovarian cancer is particularly dangerous because by the time it is diagnosed it is likely to have metastasized. Symptoms include swelling and pain in lower abdomen, occasional breathlessness, loss of weight and backache. The vast majority of women diagnosed with first and second stage ovarian cancer survive with proper treatment. If the cancer is caught in the first stage, cure is possible through surgery. This is supplemented with radiation for second-stage cancers.

Cervical cancer occurs in the cervix, the canal between the vagina and the uterus. This is the most common cancer among Indian women. The symptoms are blood in vaginal discharge, unusual bleeding between periods or after intercourse. The cervix is often removed through surgery or radiography is useful in second and third stages.

Cure: Vaccines were developed for cervical cancers as another preventive measure. Caused due Human Pappiloma virus i.e. HPV, the vaccine is made from tiny proteins that look from outside similar to HPV. It also contains Aluminum, Sodium Chloride (salt), and water, L-histidine, Polysorbate 80 and Borax, to stimulate the immune system and keep the vaccine stable and suitable for injection. The cervical cancer vaccine is given as three injections in the upper arm.

The vaccine works best if it is taken over a six-month period, So far 1.4 million doses of Cervarix® have been given to people in the UK, and millions have received the jab around the world.

It involved a major controversy in India which when administered to 120 school going girls in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat led to death of 4 girls. The girls complained of stomach disorders, epilepsy, headaches and early menarche. Women activists fear the vaccine may impact the mental health of girls who have shown no signs of distress so far. Thus the programme was immediately suspended by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and is under further clinical trials.

Finally the only way to fight cancer is regular screening after 30 plus for all women. Hospitals like Tata Memorial hospital also have free screenings thus a major aid to economically backward classes.

So women, just eat the right food, exercise, maintain hygiene and take good care of yourselves which we otherwise always have as our last priority!!!

Bhavini Panchal (T Y B Pharm)

Tags: MET Institute of Pharmacy