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Dr. Rahul Bhandhari on The 5 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Cancer

Cancer is a disease that affects millions of people globally and is one of the leading causes of death. In this article, Dr. Rahul P Bhandari, a leading oncologist, sheds light on five important things everyone needs to know about cancer.

1. Cancer is not a single disease but a group of diseases

Cancer is not just one disease but a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells. There are over 100 different types of cancer, each with its own set of symptoms, causes, and treatments.

2. Early detection is key

The earlier cancer is detected, the higher the chances of successful treatment. Regular check-ups and screenings can help detect cancer in its early stages when it is most treatable. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer and to seek medical attention if you experience any unusual symptoms.

3. Lifestyle choices can increase the risk of cancer

Certain lifestyle choices such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, and lack of exercise can increase the risk of cancer. It is important to adopt healthy habits to reduce the risk of developing cancer.

4. Cancer treatments have come a long way

Cancer treatments have advanced significantly in recent years, and there are now many effective options available. Treatments may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. The best treatment option will depend on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the individual’s overall health.

5. Support is crucial

Cancer can be a difficult and emotional journey, but support is crucial. Surrounding yourself with friends, family, and a supportive community can help you manage the physical and emotional challenges of cancer. Joining a support group, reaching out to a counselor, or talking to a cancer survivor can also provide comfort and encouragement.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is characterized by the uncontrollable division of abnormal cells that are not native to the body. Left untreated, it has the potential to invade and spread to other normal tissues of the body, resulting in varying symptoms and grave outcomes. Several risk factors can speed up this process, including family genetics, lifestyle choices, and environmental exposures, amongst others.

 

Cancer usually begins in a certain organ of the body due to mutations that occur in the normal cells, transforming them into dangerous ones. The organ affected determines what type of cancer is present, as well as the cell and behavior of the disease. One consideration would be how to increase one’s chances of preventing cancer. There are many resources and movements out there to assist with this, but it all boils down to increasing community awareness about the intricacies of cancer prevention. Some basic active approaches include:

 

Research your family’s history of cancer, and educate yourself on how this can increase your risk of developing the disease. A plethora of cancer societies has published guidelines for self-care and regular screenings for cancer. Pay heed to these recommendations if you have other risk factors or a family history of the disease, as they are rooted in extensive research and can reduce cancer rates and improve prognosis. Additionally, be attuned to your body; if you experience worsening shortness of breath, excessive weight loss, or persistent fevers and chills, take action to investigate further. Lastly, make sure to attend regular checkups with your physician – it is an invaluable habit that enables the early detection of any potential problems before they worsen.

 

Each year, the medical community advances its methods for detecting cancer. Accurately determining what is and is not cancer is constant work. Each cancer site and type have varying ways of being identified. Diagnosing cancer and ruling out an incorrect diagnosis are the goals of detection. Imaging, lab work, physical exams, and other newer procedures are used to achieve this aim.

 

The varying prognoses of cancer are heavily dependent on the type and stage of specific cancer. Other variables that may contribute to a patient’s chances of survival include their performance status, comorbidities, and genetic makeup. As knowledge related to cancer biology increases as well as advancements in screenings and treatments, some cancers are now becoming chronic diseases. Of course, this depends on early detection, successful treatment delivery, and adherence to follow-up regimens. Despite all these advantages, certain types of cancer still hold a grave outlook in our present time.

 

It is an exciting time for cancer research and advancements, with President Biden’s new Cancer Moonshot Initiative. Promising treatments such as immunotherapy, which boosts the individual’s immune system to fight cancer; and targeted therapy, have shown great progress in improving the survival rate and minimizing side effects. There is further potential as we gain insight into the biological and genetic makeup of cancers. This will lead to personalized treatments that are better suited to tackling a patient’s specific type of cancer. Now, all Stage I Lung Adenocarcinomas can be treated in the same way – but if we can tell why Patient A’s cancer is different from Patient B’s, then customized therapies could mean improved chances for success.

 

Since living with a cancer diagnosis is a long and tumultuous journey that can be filled with successes and setbacks. The patient needs to take care of their physical, mental, and emotional well-being, to tune and strengthen all aspects of health. The greater focus one puts on maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health, the greater the likelihood is of achieving an improved quality of life during cancer treatment. Several studies demonstrate that healthier nutrition and increased activity levels offer better survival rates, as well as a higher quality of life. Therefore, healing requires an integrated holistic approach which necessitates being surrounded by people who can give support in a positive environment.

Cancer isn’t just a diagnosis for a patient, it affects their whole family. Patients who make it through the process with the least difficulty are those with unwavering support from friends and family. The best thing to do is make their experience your own by being understanding and encouraging. Ask the right questions and listen to them. Even when not asked, make sure you’re there for them. Go to appointments with them, if necessary, and motivate them to keep living life in a positive way. If they’re struggling, provide whatever help you can to lift spirits and demonstrate that life does go on.

 

I’ve encountered many misconceptions related to radiation therapy. The most frequent one I hear during consults is that the treatment will burn the skin off and the side effects are too unpleasant to make it worthwhile. However, this is not accurate; technology has advanced so much that radiation therapy’s side effects are no longer as severe as they used to be. Despite this, some side effects remain unavoidable when appropriate action needs to be taken, but we are making great strides in reducing their occurrence and intensity.

 

Cancer is preventable and you can be proactive and informed about it. Do your research and talk to your family doctor about the evidence-based screening recommendations, as well as any risk factors or red flags that are applicable. We are all hoping for a better future with the increases in cancer awareness and more active research due to the Biden Administration’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative. Some cancers can even be curable if caught early, which illustrates the importance of educating yourself and having regular checkups.

 

The primary focus of cancer treatment is to maximize its effectiveness while minimizing toxicity and preserving a good quality of life. In radiation oncology, Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) has seen tremendous recent progress due to enhancements in machines, software, and the practice of medicine in general. My research and published papers regarding SBRT for lung cancers, my establishment of an SBRT program at a VA hospital, and my continual refining of my treatment strategies demonstrate how such developments are resulting in improved overall survival, fewer toxicities, and better quality of life.

Who Is Dr. Bhandari?

As a Board-Certified Radiation Oncologist, I specialize in all cancer treatment sites. I practice with a patient-centered group, Clearwater Radiation Oncology, in and around the greater Tampa area. In addition to working with patients in the clinic, he has also been involved in research and academics for many years.

 

I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois by two Indian immigrants; my father had just joined residency as a medical oncologist, one of a multitude of family members also then completing their medical studies. My family never pressed me to become a physician but rather emphasized broadening my knowledge, cultivating various skills, and making the most of my education – for them, knowledge was the ultimate asset, the building block for an easier life. Hence with their support and guidance, I embraced every curveball thrown at me down this path until I became a radiation oncologist. 

 

From high school, my gut and mind were determined for me to pursue a career in medicine. I had the most exposure to oncology due to my father’s career but wanted to gain insight into as many specialties as possible. It is sometimes difficult to give justice to the gravity of the feelings and thoughts I have for my work via words. I wake up every day, brimming with enthusiasm and excitement for the tasks ahead. Let me explain this one experience with a cancer patient to try and express the drive. Typically, someone newly diagnosed with the malignancy will be filled with concerns, queries, and a lack of direction. My job is to ensure their footing is secure, remind them they are still in control of the situation, and emphasize that I am part of their team in this struggle against the unwelcome disease. Then comes the complicated task of deciding which course of treatment best suits their case through a combination of research, education, and problem-solving skills. This same objective – eliminating cancer – invigorates me each time I step into work. The most rewarding moments come as follow-ups post-treatment when we can share favorable news on their recovery journey: knowing I had helped pull them out from an incredibly low point, enabling them to achieve a better version of themselves, is both priceless and inspiring.

 

Conclusion:

In conclusion, cancer is a complex disease that affects millions of people globally. By understanding the basics of cancer, we can take steps to reduce the risk, seek early detection and treatment, and support those affected by the disease.

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