Emotional Support Goes a Long Way in Healing Cancer’ -Dr. Ramesh Sarin

New Delhi, October 30-The Breast Cancer Awareness Month is observed in the month of October every year across the world. It helps to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of this disease.

According to a study by IARC Globocan database, Breast Cancer claims 458000 people every year with 1.38 million new cases. Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in the developed and developing countries. In low- and middle-income countries the incidence has been rising up steadily in the last years due to increase in life
expectancy, increase urbanization and adoption of western lifestyles.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer among women, impacting 2.1 million women each year, and also causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women. In 2018, it is estimated that 627,000 women died from breast cancer – that is approximately 15% of all cancer deaths among women. While breast cancerrates are higher among women in more developed regions, rates are increasing in nearly every region globally.

HealthWire (HW) speaks to Dr. Ramesh Sarin (RS), Senior Consultant Surgical Oncology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals* on the importance of showing empathy, compassion and providing emotional support to breast cancer patients and make them believe in their treatment.

HW. Is the rapid spread of breast cancer a reality in India? Is it curable?

RS. The first thing is that breast cancer is increasing in India and that is a reality. It is not only that more are aware and more people are going under screening tests like mammography and examination but actually the incident has increased. It is one of the most curable form of cancer, hence we advise people to go out and make people aware that one has any symptoms of breast cancer or breast lumps, you should take an advice from a doctor.

The second important thing is that breast cancer is curable but with this curable word comes the hyphen of ‘if detected early’. So to be detected early’ you have got to be aware of your own breasts and earliest symptoms of breast cancer.

There are lots of myths related to breast cancer like people think that it can’t happen to women with small breasts. That is not true. People think that wearing black bra or wearing bra at night causes cancer, that is not true. People also think that a biopsy done of the lump in the breast through a needle will spread the cancer further, that is also not true at all as needle biopsy is a must before a doctor can plan further treatment.

Breast cancer is not painful, it is little difficult to take but at the end of the day, if it cures you completely and give you a normal healthy life then I think one should take it as a very positive approach.


HW. How emotional support and counseling plays a major part in the treatment of patients? Can you cite an example of how a patient received and appreciated emotional support he received from you?

RS. With all the management that is available to all the doctors, I think counselling and giving them emotional support goes a long way in healing cancer. I always get a family history of who they are, what their family does, how many family members there are, who is earning, how much financially secure they are, because it does help you to treat the patient effectively, at the same time, without causing too much stress on their family as well as on their finances.

Angela Devi, one of ours nurses from Apollo Hospitals was suffering from breast cancer. I made sure she gets my compassion.

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