Friday, 8 March 2019

Empowering Health in Women

March 8, International Women’s Day, a time to reflect on progress and changes made by ordinary women and celebrate their courage and determination to fight against all the odds of the society and becoming an extraordinary role model.

This determination and courage can also be clearly seen in Women in the Medical field. With the history of domination by men in the field of medicine, especially physicians and surgeons, current stats show the growing percentage of women in this field. Women make up almost half of the current medical fields, despite all the difficulties such as Gender discrimination and blatant sexism.

While celebrating the empowerment and emergence of Women in every field, let us also create awareness of cancer in women. While taking care and nurturing their family and growing in their professionalism, women, often seems to avoid their health and overlook the symptoms. Hence, it is necessary to create cancer awareness among women.

Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer, Lung Cancer, and Ovarian Cancer are the most common type of cancer in women. Knowing and understanding their symptoms can greatly help for the early detection or even to prevent them.

Breast Cancer: It is the most common type of cancer and can occur at any stage. It is advised to see a doctor directly if you feel or notice any changes like lump or pain.

Cervical Cancer- Every woman who is sexually active, is at risk of developing this cancer as it occurs due to human papillomavirus passed during sex. Regular Pap tests can find changes in the cervix that can be treated before they become cancer.

Lung Cancer- It accounts for almost 25% of the death of female cancer deaths. Smoking increases the death percentage by 30-40%, but passive smokers are also at high risk to develop this cancer. Though breast cancer is more common, lung cancer is more likely responsible for more deaths as people avoid the symptoms if they don’t smoke.

Ovarian cancer- it is more like to occur in older women. Women with infertility, who never had children, have children after 30, increases the risk of occurrence. There are no exact tests to find ovarian cancer, but if you feel symptoms like abdominal swelling and pain, digestive problems and feeling of urinate all the times, it is advised to see a doctor.

With the 2019 theme “Think equal, build smart, and innovate for change”, let’s celebrate women's achievement, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality and also lead a healthier and longer life to protect our loved ones.

Friday, 1 March 2019

I think you have Cancer: Look what your Dog knows

The great ability of animals to sense danger such as the natural disaster like earthquakes, tsunamis etc., are already well known. But most interestingly it was found that the dogs can sense and detect cancer and other diseases. In recent years, this observation has become an area of interest and attracted widespread coverage. Many researches have been done to reason this outstanding ability of the dogs.

The dazzling smelling ability of Dogs is no secret. They can smell even the slightest odor such as a drop of blood in a swimming pool. This remarkable sense of smell is already in use for dogs to sniff narcotics and explosives in the military. But the studies have suggested that this olfactory ability of dogs is also useful to sniff out cancer and other diseases in humans and has been named as Canine cancer detection.

As humans can smell cancer in the later stages of cancer, it makes sense that dogs are able to detect cancer way before at zero stage and are well qualified for this accomplishment. Dogs have 300 million smell receptors compared to humans with only 6 million of them. This boosts their smelling ability to 100,000 times. Also, the greater part of a dog’s brain is devoted to smell or the olfactory cortex, which is dominated by visual cortex in human, making the dogs to analyze smells 40 times better than us.

But the question arises that what is there in cancer that dog smells?
This is supported by the fact that cancerous cells release very low concentrations of the alkanes and aromatic compounds that is different from the metabolic products generated by healthy cells. This significant change can be smelled by the dogs in urine, sweat, feces, and breath. This has been confirmed in case of skin cancers where dogs detect cancer by just simply sniffing the skin lesions.
This potential advantage of dog has significant benefits for human in the medical field. Using a dog to detect cancer even at the earliest stage or at the stage enough to be treatable, can greatly help to cure a patient.  Canine care detection is a low-risk and non-invasive method and offers various other advantages. Some researchers believe the trained dogs will become integrated directly into patient care, while other researchers recommend using this skill for developing machines that can reliably detect odor signatures from cancer, such as electronic noses.

In almost all the cases where the owners get themselves diagnosed as per the alert from their dogs, it is detected early enough to be treatable with a positive outcome.

So, if your dogs started acting weirdly around you or your family, listen to them and visit a Doctor!!!

Friday, 22 February 2019

Mitochondrial linkage of Cancer

It has long been considered that the glycolysis is the major metabolic process that drives aberrant cancer cell proliferation, suggesting that the impaired mitochondrial function may be the underlying cause of cancer. These findings have eventually eradicated the major misconception that cancer is a purely cell-intrinsic disorder that stems from epigenetic or genetic alterations. Although the mitochondrial defect for cancer invasiveness is long known, its relation to treatment resistance remained unclear.

Recently, from the studies of aggressive breast cancer cells, scientists have found that the movement of mitochondria inside the cell is being controlled by the pathway- called Arf6-AMP1-PRKD2. It is known that the mitochondria generally move inside the cells under various circumstances but in cancer cells, it congregates in the leading rim of the cell. It is due to the pathway- Arf6-AMP1-PRKD2, which helps to recycle the protein, named integrin in the cancerous cells which then forms the adhesion complex in the cell’s membrane triggering the movement of mitochondria to the edge of the cell.

To understand the motion of the mitochondria in the cells, the researchers carried out the experiments in the breast cancer cells where they blocked the pathway. They observed that instead of the edge of the cell, the mitochondria congregate in the middle of the cell and thus, reduced invasiveness. This happens because the mitochondria started to produce and release excessive amounts of unstable oxygen-rich molecules known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the middle of the cell. The ROS molecules promote cancer invasiveness up to certain levels but when they become in excess, they kill cancer cells.

Radiotherapy uses ionizing radiation to shrink or eradicate tumors by increasing the production of ROS molecule inside the cancer cells. However, some cancers have become resistant to radiotherapy and other treatments that employ the ROS molecules as they have developed the tolerance to the molecules. But these findings of the molecular link between cell movements and mitochondrial dynamics may lead to novel strategies to improve ROS-mediated cancer therapies.

Friday, 15 February 2019

The Secret Connection of CANCER to HEART HEALTH

Heart diseases have always been the leading cause of death all across the world, followed by the deaths from Cancer. Now the studies have revealed that the Cancer treatment also leads to cardiac side effects.  It is often observed in the population of people, who are already fighting Cancer, will also develop heart diseases. In fact, for many cases of breast cancer, women are more likely to die of cardiac disease than of cancer itself. This is because, the cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, targeted therapies and radiation therapy, can damage the heart health and leads to various side effects including abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, and heart failure.

Although Cancer therapies affect the number of organs and lead to health conditions such as lung disease and infection or kidney disease, the increase in the cases of cardiac side effects in cancer patients leads to the emergence of a new field, Cardio-Oncology. It involves the study of the adverse effect on the cardiovascular system that occurs as a result of cancer treatment and not so much for the tumor in the heart. The main aim is to minimize the adverse cardiovascular effects in cancer patients.     
These cardiac side-effects can be seen during the treatment or can even be undetected for years or decades after the treatment has ended, known as longer-term cardiovascular side effects or cardiotoxicities.

Cardio-oncology is the team-based approach that involves oncologists, cardiologists, clinical researchers and hematologists to work together for prevention, detection, and management of heart diseases in all the stages of cancer therapy and also in the cancer survivors. This is one of the most promising areas of research and advancements as it can lead to longer survivorship in cancer patients.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Cancer Awareness and its achievements

Cancer is not just one disease but it is a group of diseases which involves abnormal growth of cells with the capability to invade and spread to other parts of the body. It is the second leading cause of death just after the deaths from the heart diseases. Till now, there are over 100 different types of cancer has been diagnosed. Thus, the need for public awareness of cancer and encouraging people for positive health behavioral changes is the important aspects of cancer control.

Objectives of Cancer Awareness Programs:
Every year, 4th February is celebrated as the World Cancer Day to encourage people across the world to show support and unite for cancer awareness. There are also many governments as well as Non-government organizations (NGOs) that work throughout the year for cancer awareness, prevention and treatment and to raise funds for the patients in need.

Through various programmes and workshops, these organizations aim to:
  • Increase the knowledge of cancer, screening, and the importance of early diagnosis by mass awareness,
  • Understand the different lifestyle choices that influence the risk of developing cancer,
  • Have an awareness and understanding of common attitudes towards cancer, including fear and fatalism,
  • Be aware of the services and support available to people, nationally and locally.

Achievements and Outcomes:
Over the past few decades, the overall rate of cancer deaths has been declining about 1.5% annually in both the male and female. The cancer incidence rate has been stable in females (with the awareness about breast cancer and cervical cancer screening and diagnosis) while in males, it has been declining steadily (largely due to the decrease in prostate cancer).   For both the sexes, the rate of lung cancer is also dropping gradually, reflecting the decrease in tobacco use and adopting healthy lifestyles.

But there is still a significant room for improvement as there is still some cancer driven risk factors. While the rate of lung cancer through tobacco use has been declining, this is still the major cause of cancer death which can be addressed only through education. Similarly, more effective screening and early treatments and symptoms are needed to be addressed.conferencedirectory

Friday, 25 January 2019


The aim of Cancer therapy is to achieve a cure, bring the disease under control, and prevent its recurrence and to mitigate or ease the symptoms caused by the tumor cells. For treating the majority of the cancers, the primary approaches remain surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. But due to continuous advancement and research in the field of oncology, the cancer treatments are also being continually developed resulting in the availability of more effective and targeted treatments.

Radiation therapy or Radiotherapy is an important tool for treating cancer and are often used in combination with other therapies such as surgery or chemotherapy. The primary aim of radiotherapy is to shrink tumors by inhibiting tumor cell proliferation and kill cancer cells by inducing DNA double-strand breaks; which interrupts their ability to reproduce causing them to die. Apart from its primary action, Radiotherapy is also known to have a number of immunological effects, the manipulation of which could enhance clinical potency. With the development of approaches to therapeutically exploit the immunomodulatory capacity of tumors, a range of immunotherapeutic approaches for inducing and enhancing robust, protective anti-tumor immunity has emerged. Combining radiotherapy with immunotherapy (radioimmunotherapy) therefore has significant clinical importance.

Radioimmunotherapy is generally used to treat non-Hodgkin B-cell lymphoma but other types of cancer can also be treated effectively. The procedure employs the engineered monoclonal Antibodies (MAbs) paired with radioactive substances called radiotracers. The engineered Monoclonal antibodies recognize and bind to the surface of cancer cells, and mimics the antibodies which are naturally produced by the body’s immune system to attack the invading foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses. When paired with the radiotracers and injected into the bloodstream, they travel to and binds to cancer cells, allowing a high dose of radiation to be delivered directly to the tumor.
The advantages associated with Radioimmunotherapy are:
  1. Targets and then delivers radiation directly to the affected cells, hence healthy cells remain unaffected.
  2. Minimizes side effects associated with most high-dose of chemotherapy sessions.
  3. Usually delivered over a shorter period of time (seven to nine days).

With further research for the better understanding of radiation and its combination with immunotherapies, the outcome of the treatment is more likely to be improved. 

Friday, 18 January 2019

Cancer Treatment

Today, Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally with an estimation of about 9.6 million deaths in the year 2018 and it is increasing rapidly.
Due to advancements in the field of medicine, the treatment for cancer is also being developed continually. Now, more targeted and effective treatments are available. With such advancements, the outcomes have also improved.
There are various types of Cancer therapies available. The type of treatment directly depends upon the type of cancer and its advancement as the cancer treatment is a personalized treatment and so it can vary for every individual.

 Surgical treatment (Surgery)
In this procedure, a surgeon or Surgical oncologist removes the tumor and nearby tissues from the body during an operation. This is the oldest type of cancer treatment and is still effective for many types of cancer. There are many reasons to undergo surgical treatment during cancer, such as for cancer diagnosis, staging, removal, debulking, palliation, reconstruction, and prevention. Today, there are minimally invasive procedures and surgeries including Laparoscopic surgery, Laparoscopic surgery, Cryosurgery, Endoscopy, etc.

Radiation Therapy (or Radiotherapy)
Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to treat cancer by killing the cancer cells and shrinking the tumors in the body. At high doses of radiation, the DNA of the cancer cells damages resulting in either the death of the cancer cells as the DNA damages beyond repair or slow in the growth rate. It takes days or weeks of treatment before DNA is damaged enough for cancer cells to die. Even after the end of radiation therapy, the cancer cells keep on dying for weeks or months. It can be given both externally (aims radiation at the affected area through the machine) and internally (works by injecting radioactive the material- solid or liquid, in the body). Radiotherapy is applied for either curative treatment, or for palliative treatment.

It uses certain drugs to kill cancer cells or to stop them from dividing and spreading to the other parts of the body. It is one of the most common treatments for cancer which cures cancer or eases its symptoms. For some individuals, it may be the only treatment they receive, but mostly Chemo is applied along with other treatments. If it is applied before the other treatment to lessen the tumor size, it is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy and if used after other treatments to destroy any remaining cancer cells, it is called adjuvant chemotherapy.

Targeted Therapy
It is the foundation of precision medicine. In targeted Cancer therapies, the specific proteins and genes responsible for the growth, division, and spread of the cancer cells are targeted or blocked. It works against cancer in many different ways such as:

  • Helping the immune system to destroy cancer cells by providing a marker,
  • Stop cancer cells from dividing by interfering with the signal proteins,
  • Stop signals that help form blood vessels (angiogenesis) by providing angiogenesis inhibitors,
  • Deliver toxins, chemo drugs or radioactive materials to cancer cells using monoclonal antibodies,
  • Cause necrosis of the cancer cells.

Hormonal Therapy (Hormone Treatment or Endocrine Therapy)
It is a type of Targeted Cancer therapy. It is used to treat those cancers that use hormones to grow such as Prostrate Cancer, Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, etc., by blocking or lowering the number of responsible hormones in the body to slow or cease the growth of cancer cells. Hormone Therapy can be given orally (as pills or medicine), through injection (given by a shot in a muscle or skin), or surgically (to remove organs that produce hormones).

Immunotherapy (or Biological Therapy)
It helps the immune system to fight against cancer using biological substances by restoring and improving the function of the immune system. There are several types of immunotherapy, including monoclonal antibodies, Cancer vaccines, Non-specific immunotherapies, T-cell therapy, and Oncolytic virus therapy. Certain immunotherapies can mark cancer cells making it easier for the immune system to find and destroy them. Other immunotherapies boost the immune system to work better against cancer.

Transplantation (Bone marrow Transplant or Stem Cell Transplant)
It restores the blood-forming stem cells (WBCs, RBCs and, platelets) as in the case of leukaemia, multiple myeloma, or some types of lymphoma. It is also useful in blood diseases. In this procedure, healthy stem cells are injected in the vein to enter the bloodstream and travel to the bone marrow to restore the blood cells. The stem cells that are used in transplants can be taken from bone marrow, bloodstream, or umbilical cord.