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Be careful! This is the most feared disease in India

Dr Sapna Manocha shares why it is caused and how it can be prevented



Dr Sapna Manocha (52), an alumna of Apeejay School, Faridabad Sector 15, is a Radiation Oncologist. She practices at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in Sarita Vihar, Delhi. After completing MBBS from Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak in 1994, she pursued MD – Radiotherapy from Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak till 2000. Further, she is a member of Association of Radiation Oncologists of India (AROI) and provides Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT), Treatment of Central Nervous System Tumors, Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT), Stereotactic RadioSurgery (SRS) and Breast Cancer Management to patients.

In the following interview, Dr Manocha discusses how cancer has become the most deadly disease in India. In addition, she shares why health and wellbeing should become the top priority for every person, now more than ever. Read on edited excerpts from the interview:

Which is the most widespread form of cancer?

In females, initially it was the cervix. But now, breast cancer is commonly detected. In males, head and neck, lung cancer are found. With this, benign (non-cancerous) brain tumours and they are impacting people. Some causes could be consumption of alcohol, tobacco, genetic history, diet and hormonal changes. The National Cancer Institute has observed that India shares a large population of the global cancer burden and every 13th new cancer patient in the world is Indian.

Any preventive measures one can take?

Women should engage in regular screening such as Mammography, Pap smear testing. Men should go for an Ultrasound, Prostate-specific Antigen test. If one has a genetic history, PET scan is a must. Regular check-ups, monitoring diet and reducing fats are some measures. 

Diet one should follow to avoid health complications?

Consume high-fibre diet, less cheesy and fatty foods. Have plenty of fluids and avoid smoking, drinking. Exercise or walk regularly.

There is a lot of misinformation about cancer. Any myths you can help bust?

Myth 1: Wearing underwired bras can cause cancer.

Reality: These two things are not related.

Myth 2: E-cigarettes are not carcinogenic.

Reality: It is as harmful as a regular cigarette. It can damage the lungs.

Myth 3: Using a certain oil can prevent cancer.

Reality: Not really. One should keep alternating between different kinds of oils such as mustard, sunflower, olive oil etc. Re-heating the same oil should be avoided.

Myth 4: Plastic or metal containers are safe while heating.

Reality: All materials react with heat whatever may be the coating. So, it can enter our food.

Myth 5: Consuming hot liquids every time is okay.

Reality: No, it can cause inflammation and lead to cancerous complications. So, have everything in moderation.

Since breast cancer impacts women at a large-scale, what message do you have for them?

Nowadays, late marriages are becoming a trend. In my view, the same can lead to complications. To give a break to your oestrogen cycle, pregnancy is necessary and during that time women must lactate properly. Maintain hygiene in all the genital areas and palpate the breasts every once in a month. Cancer can be 99% curable only if it is detected early.

You cater to cancer patients regularly. Do their experiences, interactions impact you as a human being?

Yes, definitely. The profession of a doctor requires one to be extremely empathetic. And surely, it is difficult to see how a person is suffering. But through years of medical training, we become mentally tough to deal with such challenges. A work ethic I follow: to give my best to the patients.

Tell us more about your school years. 

In 1977, I became part of Apeejay School, Faridabad Sector-15 as a student. I graduated in 1988 from the school. It has been 35 years since. Even at that time, Apeejay was topmost. The school had a beautiful building and a lush green campus. The institution provided me with a platform to showcase all my talents, be it dance, music, art or sports. I even received an award from the Founder-Chairman, Dr Stya Paul, for a Hindi essay competition. I also scored 90% and was the Medical topper of the school. I even received a special recognition from CBSE for it. The school has been a second home for me and I have always enjoyed being there.

Even today, I am well-connected to my school friends, we meet regularly and have gatherings. I even found my school friends in the United States, and they were extremely welcoming! It felt so good! I am happy to share that everyone is doing so well in life. With it, ‘Soaring High is My Nature’ – the motto of Apeejay Education, still drives me!

Recently, you were invited to Apeejay, Faridabad for an Annual Day as the Chief Guest. How did it feel to return to your school after many years?

It was simply overwhelming! I enjoyed every moment of the day. One day, I received a call from Sheena Ahuja Ma’am from the school and she invited me. I heartily agreed! And, the function was brilliant, the theme chosen – ‘Anuvartan – The Discovery of Oneself’ was extremely apt.

Mrini Devnani is a Senior Correspondent and Marketing Coordinator at Newsroom. She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]

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