Be Aware of Cancer

Be Aware of Cancer

Monday, 4th February is the World Cancer Day. This year, the focus is on increasing the awareness among general public about all kinds of cancer. To that effect, the tag line is – “Cancer – did you know?”. The emphasis is on clarifying some common ‘myths’ associated with Cancer.

Many medical specialties are involved in managing various stages of the cancer treatment. Plastic Surgery has long been involved with managing some aspects of cancer – notably that affecting Head and neck cancer, breast cancer and more commonly, skin caners. It is a common practice that other surgical teams, such as ENT and Breast surgeons may be involved in removing the cancer affected part while Plastic surgeon would be involved in reconstruction of the removed parts to bring a sense of ‘normalcy’ for the patient.

More and more skin cancers are now treated by Plastic surgeons – both in removal and reconstruction aspects. Some of the common skin cancers, like Rodent ulcer (Basal cell cancer or BCC) and some Squamous cell cancer (SCC) are eminently curable if identified early. Even the more aggressive type of skin cancer, Melanoma – is treatable by surgery in the early stages. Here are some warning signs one should know about Melanoma:

Darker colour changes within any longstanding mole or differing shades of colour within the same mole
Increasing size or changing shape – becoming irregular in appearance
Crust formation or bleeding
Development of a NEW coloured mole

Not all melanomas develop from a previous coloured mole. A majority of the melanoma may occur from areas of skin where there was no mole at all. Regular use of sunbeds, especially among young persons, is a source of concern for medical specialists as there is a link between excessive use of sunbeds to tan your skin and development of skin cancers such as melanoma.

Recent media reports indicate that the ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude in Britain is delaying the patients from seeking medical help early on in the process (www. / 30th January). It also paints a dismal picture of cancer survival rates among Britons to be close to the bottom among developed countries.

Whatever the worrying symptoms are – it is better to know the facts about Cancer and to seek appropriate medical help early. Let that be the one point to remember on this World Cancer Day.

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