Sonali Bendre suffers from metastatic cancer – here is all that you need to know

We spoke to Dr Anup Ramani, Uro-oncologist to know more about metastatic cancers and how to prevent them.

The news is not new to us anymore. We all got to know about Sonali Bendre and her fight with the big C yesterday when she sent out a message on one of her social media platforms stating that she is suffering from metastatic cancer. It was definitely shocking for all of us and it took some time for the news to sink in. But then when reality glares at you, you do finally realise that a malaise like cancer knows no biases and it can hit anyone irrespective of class, creed, colour or gender. Here are nine healthy habits that can reduce your risk of cancer.

This is why our health should be our top priority but in reality, it is not. In some, it doesn't even feature anywhere on the priority list. 'It is very inherent of us to think that we are protected. Mind you this attitude is not present only in common people but also among medical expert and doctors too. And one fine day we are forced to pay for our ignorance either by living with a lifestyle disorder or facing the wrath of the deadly C,' says Dr Anup Ramani, Uro-oncologist & Robotic Surgeon, Lilavati, Breach Candy, Saifee Hospital from Mumbai.

But it is not just our ignorance that is to be blamed. There are a lot of factors that can make one prone to a malaise like cancer the environment (read pollution), foods loaded with chemicals and fertilizers, second-hand smoke and a lot more. But the problem with cancer is it doesn't show any imminent symptoms initially and when it comes to the fore it is usually too late or has metastasised.

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What is metastatic cancer?

'All cancers start within some organ. With time, the cancer cells keep growing within the organ and then start travelling outside the organ (metastasis). Metastasis can occur to surrounding lymph nodes or to other organs. For example, cancer of the kidney can spread to the lungs. This does not mean the patient now has lung cancer. It is kidney cancer growing in the lung,' says Dr Ramani. A metastatic cancer is usually a stage IV cancer where managing the condition to improve quality of life of the patient becomes the prime aim rather than treating the cause (performing surgery at the site of origin).

If one has already been affected with cancer what can be done to reduce chances of metastatic?

'Almost all cancers that are diagnosed early can be treated to make one cancer free. But the problem is people reach out for help late when cancer has already metastasised. In my practice I see almost 80 percent people with prostate cancer come to me late, when cancer has already spread to the bones and other parts of the body only 20 percent of patients reach to me at an early stage,' says Dr Ramani stressing the point that regular health check-ups for both men and women after the age of 45 can detect cancer early and prevent metastatic cancer. Read to know if obesity increases chances of breast cancer in women.

Are cases of metastatic cancer rising these days?

'Around 21 years back when I started my practice cancer cases were far less but these days in every family you will find at least two people (close or distant relative) battling one or other form of cancer. So, cancer cases have risen in the modern times and apart from all the other factors that can fuel a tumour growth our toxic and polluted environment plays a crucial role,' says Dr Ramani.

He further explains that environmental pollution can alter our DNA make-up. 'We have two kinds of the gene in our DNA suppressor gene and regulator gene, both of them play the role of a good cop and bad cop. While the regulator gene leads to a multiplication of cells the suppressor gene controls the same. They both work hand-in-hand to keep things in tandem. Now for factors unknown (including environmental pollution) if the suppressor gene gets nullified then tumour growth is imminent. Within no time the cells begin to multiply at the site of origin and eventually it happens in other parts of the body too. The early we arrest the tumour growth the better, as that is the only way to prevent metastasis of cancer,' says Dr Ramani. Here is how physical activity and exercise after cancer treatment can prevent a recurrence.

Despite so much being talked about cancer awareness, health check-up scheme why is it that we fail to pick up the symptoms early?

'First, we aren't much disciplined with our health. Second, we always wait for a pain to happen to get ourselves checked. Remember, especially with cancer pain isn't the initial symptom but a red flag. Most of the time cancers (all kinds) are asymptomatic in nature and a pain might signal an emergency. This is why after the age of 45 if you live in a polluted metro, it is mandatory to do a health check-up once a year,' says Dr Ramani. But the earlier you start to make this a habit the better.

How are metastatic cancers treated?

'Usually, a surgery is ruled out in metastatic cancers merely because a tumour is not restricted to the area of origin. An end-stage metastatic prostate cancer is treated with hormone therapy and chemotherapy usually. However, the treatment depends on the diagnosis and prognosis of cancer. It could also be a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The main goal of the treatment is to slow the cancer growth and help the patient survive longer and ensure a better quality of life,' says Dr Ramani.

Here is what Sonali Bendre posted on her instagram sharing about her health condtion

Image source: Shutterstock

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