The Telegraph
Tuesday , April 15 , 2014
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Doc’s to-dos to cut cancer risk

Reduce the risk of breast cancer with physical exercise and by avoiding junk food and having the first child before 25, clinical oncologist Suresh Advani told a gathering of women in Calcutta on Monday.

He cited the medical history of two groups of women in Maharashtra to drive home his point at a panel discussion organised by the Ladies Study Group, created in 1966 by the Indian Chamber of Commerce to encourage women to mobilise talent.

Advani said the incidence of breast cancer was one in 200 for women over 40 at Basri village in Sholapur district. In Mumbai, 200km from Basri, one in 30 in the same age group had been diagnosed with the disease.

“What made a difference was that women in the village had to do a lot of physical labour… chores such as fetching water and washing clothes. Most of them had their first child by 25 while the food they eat is fat free,” said Advani, chief medical and paediatric oncologist and haemato oncologist with Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai.

He said infrastructure for cancer treatment was poor across the country and facilities in Bengal would rank among the poorest.

“There are big facilities to treat cancer in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik. But in Bengal, people from all over the state crowd to Calcutta. No wonder, at our hospital in Mumbai, 50 per cent of the patients are from Bengal.”

He said 80 per cent of breast cancers in the west are detected in the preliminary stage while most cases in India reach advanced stages before they are diagnosed.

He said urban working women were progressively marrying late and having their first child after 25, a major reason behind the rise in breast cancer cases. “The problem is even more acute in western countries. The average age at which women are having their first child is 35 and, according to estimates, it would soon become 39,” he added.

The doctor shared some of the latest techniques in detection and treatment of cancer. “One type of blood cancer occurs when just one gene gets translocated. Earlier, we needed a complex treatment with bone marrow transplantation but now science understands the cause of the disease better.”

Advani said women above 40 should get a mammography done every two years. Asked if frequent mammography could be harmful, he said: “It’s true that a lot of radiation entered the body in the earlier days of mammography but that is not the case any more.”

Anguished over the growing number of smokers among women, he said: “Not every one who smoked got lung cancer but incidence was much higher among smokers.”

Shobhana Kamineni, the executive director of Apollo Hospitals, was the other panellist at the discussion moderated by Rupali Basu, the CEO of Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals, Calcutta. The audience included Madhu Neotia, adviser, Ambuja-Neotia, Sumangala Birla, chairperson, Ladies Study Group, Preeti Kapoor, governing body member and past president, Ladies Study Group, and Nilaanjana Chakraborty, member, Ladies Study Group.


  • Do physical exercise every day
  • Avoid junk food
  • Women above 40 should get a mammography done every two years
  • No smoking
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables in diet
  • Have your first child by 25 years