Interacting with UNI on the sidelines of the four-day meeting of World Federation of Surgical Oncology Societies, Prof R K Karwasra said not only commoners, but the general medical practioners also needed to be urgently educated about various aspects of cancer to address the disease, nearly one lakh cases of which were reported annually in India.
''While 80 per cent cancer patients in western countries reported to specialists in the first two stages of the diseases, similar percentage of cancer patients went to oncologists in India during the last two stages of the fatal ailment,'' he claimed.
Presently the head of Department of Surgery and Surgical Oncology at Regional Cancer Centre, Rohtak (Haryana) Prof Karwasra said ''in most cases cancer if reported and detected in first two stages is curable, but in our country owing to lack of education about early detection and symptoms of the disease, most patients come to specialists when the cancer has spread to vital organs, which makes it virtually incurable,'' he added.
Dr Karwasra, also the secretary of Indian Association of Surgical Oncology said that a national awareness campaign for educating the commoners about the early detection and cure of cancer needed to be started on the lines of the pulse polio programme.
''It is sad but true that not only commoners, but most of general medical practioners were cancer ignorant. Only five to ten per cent of general medical practioners had some idea about timely detection and symptoms of cancer,'' he lamented.
''We need to educate the commoners as well as general medical practioners about cancer, as they are the ones who timely spot cancer cases and sent them to specialised centers for complete cure,'' Prof Karwasra maintained.
If reported in early stages, cancer can be cured completely in upto 75 per cent cases, while a maximum of 40 per cent cases reported in the last two of the four stage progressive disease can be cured, he added.
In most of the cases reported in the country (in third and fourth stages generally) the specialists either elongate the survival of the patient or provide palliative or symptomatic therapy to reduce pain and symptoms associated with the disease.
UNI ARS SB MSJ DB1224