The standard treatment methods include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These methods have undergone vigorous trials over several decades and are the best forms of treatment. The proof of the same is the fantastic increase in survival in almost all cancers in the western nations.
Chemotherapy is the injection of drugs in saline, into the body. These drugs are programmed to kill rapidly multiplying cells. Radiation Therapy is subjecting a particular area (of cancer) in the body, with ‘ionizing rays’. These types of rays kill the dividing cells. Here is what to expect at your first chemotherapy session.
Radiation Therapy is subjecting a particular area (of cancer) in the body, with ‘ionizing rays’. These types of rays kill the dividing cells.
The main reason for side effects, especially in chemotherapy, is due to the fact that we cannot target only cancer cells, because they are like normal cells and there is no way of differentiating them. So while killing cancer cells, some normal cells also get affected and hence the severe side effects. You can also read latest research on breast cancer — vaccine effective in preliminary trail.
Do the breasts need to be removed to cure breast cancer?
Even though, some people believe that the only treatment for breast cancer is removal of breasts but that is not true. ‘In more than 70 percent women, we can very well do a breast conserving surgery (BCS)! Even if a tumour is large, we can give chemotherapy first, which will reduce the size of the tumour, and then a Breast Conservation Surgery can be done! The only important requisite of BCS is that, after surgery, radiation therapy is compulsory.’, said Dr Sumeet Shah, a renowned oncologist.
Read more about latest research and advances in cancer treatment.
Breast cancer is NOT preventable and even healthy people can get it. Which is why, early detection is extremely important. However, leading a healthy lifestyle can reduce the chances of having breast cancer. Here are some things you can do:
1. Regular exercise. It could be in any form – brisk walking, gym, aerobics, yoga etc. 45 minutes of daily exercise has definitely shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
2. Battle stress away. Easier said than done, but stress is a silent killer. Stress depresses our body’s immunity (our body’s resistance mechanism), and so decrease the capacity of our body to fight off a cancer cell. Don’t worry, be happy!
Besides these, here are some food habits that can keep cancer at bay.
1. Focus more on plant-based foods — like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, pulses etc. Start your day with fruits and nuts. Have some whole grain cereal for breakfast. Make sure to have a big portion of salad with vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, beetroot, cucumbers etc pre-lunch and pre-dinner. Carry snacks like fruits, trail mixes (sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, walnuts etc), opt for sandwiches with multigrain breads and lot of veggies in it.
2. Fiber — is the key component to prevent cancer. All plant based foods are rich in fiber which helps to keep your digestive system clean and healthy and push the cancer causing compounds out of the gut before they can harm you. You can add fiber to your diet by replacing white rice with brown rice, eating the fruits with skin, choosing popcorn over potato chips etc.
3. Avoid processed foods — The more you eat food in its original form, the better protection it gives. For example instead of drinking orange juice, peel and eat the orange or prepare oatmeal porridge with raisins rather than having an oatmeal raisin cookie. Here are 10 reasons to stop eating junk food right now!
4. Cut down on red meat and whole-fat milk — as research shows that vegetarians are about fifty percent less likely to develop cancer than those who eat meat. That is because meat and milk lack fiber, antioxidants and nutrients that have cancer protective properties and is high on saturated fat which is linked with increased risk of cancer. But you don’t need to eliminate meat completely. Read about do red meats have any place in a healthy diet?
A good visual reminder is to have 2/3rd of your plate filled with plant foods and 1/3rd of it with meat and dairy products. You can cut them down by cutting animal products to a palm-size, adding some salads or beans to it rather than using it as the main element. Choose fish or lean chicken as they are low on fat, avoid processed meats like sausages, salamis etc.
5. Choose your fats smartly — Saturated and trans fats are demons for health, so limit them. Saturated fats (bad fats) are found in butter, ghee, eggs, whole fat milk and red meats and trans fats are found in processed and junk foods like burgers, pizzas etc.
On the other hand unsaturated fats (good fats)like MUFA and PUFA are found in oils that are liquid at room temperature eg: olive oil, ricebran oil, etc. The other sources of unsaturated fats are avocados, nuts like walnuts, almonds etc. Also focus onomega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation and support brain and heart health. Good sources include fish like salmon, tuna, and flaxseeds. You can add them by eating fish once or twice a week, adding flaxseeds to your salad, avoiding fried foods, checking the label for bad fats. Read more about oils with high PUFA content — good or bad?
6. Opt for cancer-fighting foods — You immune system needs to be strong to fight against cancer causing agents. You need to eat a variety of colourful foods with antioxidants (vitamin A, C, E and selenium) and phytochemicals that help strengthen immunity and fight diseases. Such foods are tomatoes, broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables, grapes, cranberry, carrots, cabbage, garlic, onions, grapefruits, blueberries, chilli peppers, jalapeno, soy products like tofu etc. Green tea is also antioxidant rich, so replace your black tea with three cups of green tea per day.
7. Drink plenty of water — as it helps to eliminate toxins from the body and supply nutrients to the cancer cells which can kill and prevent them from multiplying. Avoid sugary drinks like colas, juices etc as they increase inflammation and cancer growth. Here are 10 ways you can increase your water intake.
8. Preserve nutrients when you cook — Wash the vegetables and fruits with a brush to remove all pesticide residues. Eat raw as much as possible, this helps retain the nutrients. Steam the vegetables using very little water. Prevent over-heating of oil as it can become carcinogenic.
9. Opt for healthier cooking methods — Instead of deep-frying, pan-frying, and sautéing, opt for baking, boiling, steaming, or broiling. Store oils in a cool dark place to prevent it from becoming rancid. Use microwave friendly containers of good quality to prevent plastic material interaction with food. Read about cooking oil VS Cooking spray – which is a healthier option?
10. Avoid foods that look or smell mouldy — as they are likely to contain aflatoxin, a strong carcinogen. Nuts will stay fresh longer if kept in the refrigerator or freezer.