Are  we   facing  a Cancer Pandemic?   

Dear  Friends  and  Patrons of  SDF,

 This is  to  thank  you  all  for  keeping that  day of  27th Sunday November  as  top priority  to  participate  in the  seminar on  Cancer    addressed  by  Hon Justice  Dr  Naryana  Kurup,  Mr  Joy  P Jacob  (  CEO  of  MOSC Medical College),Dr Aju Mathew  the  international  medical oncologist, Dr  TA Varkey, Dr  PO Abrham and  Dr Mathew  Abraham.

Your   participation  and   personal  presence  made  a  huge   positive   difference  to make  the  seminar  a  success. We  also  thank  you for taking an active part in the   post –  seminar  dinner interactions among the  participants.

You are   very  dear   to us   in the  SDF.  You  provide  us  with  additional  fuel  to run  further  effectively.

We make   an appeal  to  all  our  friends  and  patrons  without any  offense  aimed  at  any one. If  you  consider  SDF  as  your  priority,  please do  keep  your  appointment    with us firm and  non – tradable  for  other causes , unless  it  is a medical emergency or  a death related  emergency.

We  got    during the  last  couple  of times  some of  our  confirmed   long-time patrons  assigning last minute    very  flimsy   excuses     and  seeking leave  of  absence. (family   tour  or  wedding  eve  parties despite   confirming  the  participation   well in advance).  Surely you know   your priorities  better than us.Yet   you make  us weak in our enthusiasm  inadvertently  and  dampen  our  spirits.

If  you  consider  SDF  is  your last  priority–if  you got nothing  else to  do  then  attend–  kindly  change  that  attitude  as   you are   our  most valued  patrons if   you  feel that  SDF  seminars  are  of  any   use  to  you and   your dear ones  please. I am  sorry  for  being very  blunt and  seek   your  forgiveness if  I have  hurt  your feelings.

Please  find below  the  gist of the  deliberations  of the  last seminar.

SDF   wishes   you  all  Merry  Chrisitmas and happy New Year  2023

Sincerely   yours

Dr  KM George

President  SDF 30th  Nov,  2022.


Summary of the deliberations of the 151st  seminar  of  SDF held  on  27th Sunday   November  at Mel Mana  Gardens  –Ooramana—Kerala  –India

Theme  of  the  seminar :  Are  we   facing  a Cancer Pandemic?   

Dr. Aju Mathew started off his talk by suggesting that although we are currently not seeing a cancer pandemic, we may face one in the future, if we do not take the necessary steps to curtail the risk factors for cancer. The major reason for a palpable rise in numbers of cancers in our society is because of the demographic pattern. We are an aging society and cancer is a disease most common in the elderly. However, the rate of lifestyle related cancers are also rising. Lifestyle changes that can put someone at a higher risk for cancer are mainly tobacco use, alcohol use and poor healthy habits like lack of exercise and poor diet (especially greater consumption of processed food). Dr Mathew suggested that the field of cancer medicine has progressed tremendously. Although we know cancer chemotherapy cures lives, we need much more targeted therapies that can precisely kill cancer. The good part is that such therapy is now accessible even in our town. We must also emphasize cancer prevention using prudent screening strategies, lifestyle modifications and improving early diagnosis. Dr Mathew discussed various new approaches to tackle cancer using immunotherapy strategies that harness the immune system to kill cancer. Finally, he answered several common questions in a very lucid manner. 

Details of the speaker:

Dr. Aju Mathew 

MBBS (Trivandrum), MD (USA), Diplomate of American Board (Med Onc, Hemat, Int Med), MPhil (Cambridge), FACP (USA) 

American Board certified (Internal Medicine, Haematology, Med Oncology) (Uni of Pittsburgh) 

Consultant, Ernakulam Medical Centre & MOSC Medical College, Kolenchery, Kerala, India

Detailed  Report  of the  seminar  on cancer  provided  by  Dr.  PO Abraham  and Dr.  BJ Meledom: 


 Definition. A disease due to mutation of cells wherein abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy body tissues.

Cancer is an age related disease. Most cancers take years to develop, and often occur in people as they get older. This long process is due to the cell’s protective mechanisms to keep cancer from developing. However, as cells age, the chance of accumulating harmful mutations increases and cancer cells can start to grow.

 Even though there is an increase in the number of cancer cases, there is no increase in the rate of incidence. For example the incidence of breast in Kerala is 35/100,000, whereas it  is 5 times more in the western countries.

 What are the causes of cancer?

1. Tobacco. : Use of tobacco is the greatest threat. Even nicotine-emitting electronic devices are now available in India. Use of tobacco by women in the population is increasing. People consider cancer as a social evil  or  stigma.

2. Liquor. : There is a common feeling among the public that consumption of alcohol in small quantities is not injurious to health. But it may lead a person to addiction and moreover the addiction level differs from person to person. Alcoholism is one of the main contributory causes for the development of cirrhosis of liver and a cirrhotic liver is a fertile soil for the cancer cells to invade aggressively. Another pathetic fact of this habit is that 54%of the cancer due to consumption of liquor is found among the people at the  rock bottom level (people below poverty line) of the society.

3. Lifestyle.    Obesity due to faulty diet and lack of exercise is a contributing cause. The incidence of colon cancer is increasing in India and especially in Kerala. So it is always better to avoid refined food and try to include sufficient fruits and vegetables in the diet, so as to provide enough fibre. It is saddening to note that paediatric obesity is at an increase in Kerala.

4. Screening.  Unnecessary screening need to be avoided. Frequent PSA test is not necessary unless and until it is warranted and recommended by a urologist. In South Korea there was a high incidence of thyroid cancer (88/100,00) due to unnecessary screening of Thyroid. In Kerala the rate of thyroid cancer is 6 to 13.8 per 100,000  population. This is attributed to Thorium radiation from the sand particles. Sometimes it is over diagnosed. Screening is found effective in colon cancer (colonoscopy), cervical cancer, oral cancer, “CT scan Lungs” etc. These are all meant for early detection and treatment of cancer, so as to get a high rate of cure.

5. Heredity : Hereditary predisposition for cancer need to be investigated among the close relatives. Eg: Breast cancer, Ovarian cancer.

 6) Early Symptoms of Cancer

1. Change in Bowel or Bladder.

2.A sore throat that doesn’t heal

3.Unusual bleeding or discharge

4. Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere.

5. Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing

6. Obvious changes in  warts /mole.

7.Nagging cough or hoarseness

          Again if you are experiencing any of these cancer symptoms, please contact a specialist to schedule an examination and screening.

              “Dr. Aju Mathew informed that MOSCMC Kolenchery is happy to help you with live counselling over phone contact from any place.”

8) Treatment.       

1. Surgery

2. Chemotherapy

3. Radiation therapy

4. Immunotherapy

5. Targeted therapy

6. Stem cell therapy or Bone marrow therapy.

Immunotherapy : uses the immune system to target and kill cancer cells and can save lives where other treatment options fail. Former American President Jimmy Carter was treated   successfully with this therapy.

Targeted Therapy  is a type of cancer treatment that targets the changes in cancer cells that help them to grow, divide and spread. 

1.      He made presentations based on data and evidence .

2.      Increase in incidence of cancer due to multiple reasons .

a)                  Life span has increased from average of 60 to 90 +

b)                  Use of tobacco and alcohol

c)                  Lifestyle changes

d)                  Use of ultra-processed foods

e)                  Environmental factors

3.      Now diagnosis of cancer could be done with less invasive tests

4.      Treatment of cancer could be done specifically targeting the malignant cells.

5.      Cirrhosis of the liver would make the affected person extremely vulnerable to  cancer .

6.      Preventive strategies are extremely important in managing cancer incidence.

7.      Early detection by diagnostic tests would enable the disease .

8.      Most common forms of cancer are

a)                  Breast cancer

b)                  Uterus cancer

c)                  Prostate cancer

d)                  Lung cancer

e)                  Thyroid cancer

9.      Indiscriminate diagnostic tests not desirable . In south Korea , Govt. made it mandatory to do thyroid tests for cancer and the incidence of thyroid was reported to be high. In fact, the mandatory tests for thyroid , which was not actually required , led to the report of high incidence . Tests should be done only when some symptoms are noticed .

10.  New developments in cancer therapy :

More specific and targeted treatment methods are now available . Genetic engineering techniques are being developed to treat cancer and other diseases .

 In Pakistan a survey conducted found a family with insignificant level of LDL cholesterol . It was found that gene which they inherited was responsible for the phenomenon . Research Institute identified the gene and through genetic engineering they are replicating the gene which would be implanted to individuals with high LDL cholesterol level.

Dr. Aju Mathew during a presentation exploded the myths of cancer and explained the facts about cancer explicitly .

Submitted  by  the  president  of  SDF  (Summary prepared  by Dr.  BJ Meledom and Dr.  PO Abraham of  SDF)

Dated  29th  November, 2022

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