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This Cancer Day, here’s how you can make an impact as a doctor

Engaged in one of the few noble professions in the world, as a doctor your job is all about making other’s lives better. Day on day, year on year, it’s about doing all you can to help your patients live a healthy and happy life. While you’re all too familiar with juggling many responsibilities, on the occasion of World Cancer Day on 4 February 2019, take a moment to divert your attention to this cause.

The numbers put everything in perspective. As per the American Cancer Society, cancer claimed 9.5 million lives in 2018, which is an alarming 26,000 deaths on a daily basis. Closer home, studies revealed that cancer is the second biggest killer in the country, and of all the cancer deaths globally, India’s share is a staggering 8.17%. Data also suggests that this trend isn’t going to change anytime soon. Between 1990 and 2016, cancer deaths in India have grown by 112% and incidence of the condition itself has gone up by almost 50%.

Since the Indian Council Medical Research predicts more than 8.8 lakh deaths due to cancer by 2020, building awareness around the condition is an area that requires unwavering attention from healthcare professionals. The awareness theme for this year’s Cancer Day is ‘I Am and I Will’, aimed educating and increasing awareness among people on how to fight cancer through  screening, early detection and a better lifestyle.

Here’s how you can do your bit as a doctor-

Talk to your patients

There’s nothing quite as powerful as sitting down with your patients and understanding whether they’re at the risk of suffering from cancer. Since lifestyles, apart from hereditary conditions, play a role in determining risk of cancer, this is the first and most powerful step you can take.

Educate about symptoms and signs
You can educate your patients about how following certain lifestyle habits eating healthy meals, doing regular exercises, prohibiting consumption of tobacco products, limiting alcohol intake, etc., which can have a direct impact on risks associated with cancer. Along with this, you can make them aware of the myths and rumors that create a stigma or discrimination against people with the disease.

The earlier cancer can be detected, the better the chances of survival are. To reinforce this amongst your patients, consider ways and means of educating them of various symptoms and signs of cancer along with early cancer detection guidelines. For example, you could start by putting up fliers at your clinic. For better engagement, consider emailing newsletters to your patients. This is a small beginning that can go a long way in helping patients, regardless of whether or not you’re a cancer specialist.

Encourage society stakeholders involved

As a doctor, you can promote healthy lifestyle habits in schools and workplaces. Other than this, you can also call-on the government to allocate sufficient resources so that cancer-stricken patients and survivors get access to a better quality of life.

It’s only natural to feel responsible as a medical practitioner and these are a few ways in which you can be involved at ground zero. Be it arranging fundraisers or organising awareness drives in tier II and tier III cities, you can further the cause and widen the scope of your efforts.

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