Cancer shares a lot of symptoms with general diseases like tuberculosis and persistent cough, a warning for people to seek early screening and treatment.
Mouth ulcers, a fever not abating, an incurable cough, a growing mole or a wound that does not heal fast are symptoms that need to be screened for cancer.
Unlike in the US, where the cure rate is 55 percent as two-thirds of the people seek treatment in the first and second stages, in India it is the reverse as most seek treatment only in the second or third stage. This reduces the chances of a cure.
Though colon and rectum cancer is so far not among the top five cancers in India, this may not remain the case as Indians increasingly switch to a western lifestyle and non-vegetarian diets. Most patients with colorectal cancer seek treatment only when they are into advanced stages, making treatment a big challenge.
The rate of cure varies from 10 to 50 % depending on the stage and time of presentation, which clearly emphasizes the need for early screening for cancer. Furthermore, patients in the first and second stages have more treatment options and lesser chances of a relapse.
By 2025-30, according to the World Health Organization, India is expected to peak with all kinds of cancer. Cancer is expected to become a chronic disease and the effectiveness of therapy could depend on chronic treatments as in the case of diabetes or other similar health problems.