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Filed on January 16, 2020 | Last updated on January 16, 2020 at 05.05 pm

Symptoms can be confusing. Patients seldom know when to see their doctor and some are shaken as they least expect it would be their own diagnosis. What does one do in such a situation? Being in control with your anxieties, doubts and lifestyle changes may be distressing. It is best that you seek professional help at the right time. When you are guided by an expert you are more aware and ready to take the right action. An opinion for cancer patients can be a life changer at times.

Here are some inputs from Dr. Sivaprakash Rathanaswamy, Specialist Surgical Oncologist and Dr. Soha Abdelbaky, Specialist Medical Oncology in Zulekha Hospital Dubai, clarifying any doubts and queries you may have.

1. How do I disclose this to my family? Do you recommend I do it with professional help? How do I keep myself calm?

It is always advisable to disclose the cancer diagnosis to family members by your oncologist or your family physician. Patients as well as relatives need psychological counseling and financial counseling to facilitate social and financial support to ensure better overall treatment outcome.

2. When will I require a surgery? How do I know I am cancer free after the surgery? How will we know if the treatment is working?

Your oncologist will advise you regarding need and timing of surgery in your proposed course of treatment. We have facilities called frozen section through which pathologists can provisionally confirm your cancer and completeness of surgery during operation time itself. You will be undergoing scans and laboratory tests as per the doctor’s advise, to assess response to treatment as per guidelines.

3. If any emergencies happen at night what do I do? Ant specific indications/symptoms I need to be watchful of?

You are advised to reach emergency department immediately and emergency physician will stabilize you and contact your oncologist for advise on further management. Fever, bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, giddiness are few symptoms to which you need to pay foremost attention during your cancer treatment.

4. How about my eating habits? What should I avoid and what do I eat?

Some cancers are associated with obesity and intake of alcohol, processed or smoked food items. Hence getting advise from a dietician and maintaining appropriate BMI and avoiding high calorie, processed, preserved food items and alcoholic beverages and intake of fresh fruits vegetables having high antioxidants and high fiber content will help in cancer prevention.

5. What should be some good routine habits after treatment? What type of follow-up will I need after treatment? How often will I need to have follow-up tests?

Proper physical activity, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, maintaining optimal BMI, control of comorbidities like hypertension and diabetes helps in better recovery after treatment. Your oncologist will advise you follow-up intervals and tests needed as per protocol and your cancer stage.

6. Will my children be affected with the disease in their lives? What are the chances? How can avoid this?

Less than 10% of cancers are hereditary. If you are diagnosed at young age or had strong family history, you will be advised to go for gene analysis and also pre and post checks, and genetic counseling along with your children.

7. What do you suggest should be my immediate action when I see myself experiencing a painful lump?

Finding a lump on your body can be terrifying. Not every lump should cause worry as most of the lumps are non-cancerous. There are many conditions that cause non-cancerous lumps as cysts, fibroadenomas in the breast and enlarged lymph nodes due to infection or inflammation. Lumps that are cancerous are large, hard and grow steadily. Once a lump is found at any site of the body, you must take advise from your health care provider to rule out cancer.

8. I was absolutely fine and no family history of cancer. Why do you think I got it?

Many people think that having no one in the family with cancer means they have no cancer risk. But you should know that only 5-10% of cancers are caused by abnormal genes passed on from parents’ and about 15-20% occur in a person with a family history (but no known genetic abnormality). Therefore, most cancers are actually not related to family history. For example, 80% of persons diagnosed with breast cancer or colorectal cancers have no family history.

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