Know Cancer – No Cancer – Prevention & Detection

November 29, 2018 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Jai Hind College, AV Hall,
A Rd
Churchgate, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400020

With National Cancer Awareness Day falling in the month of November, V Citizens Action Network, in association with the Rotary Club of Bombay, and Jai Hind College, organized a special Social Sanchar on the 29th of November 2018, to spread awareness about Cancer its prevention, early detection and treatment and in particular to dispel the fear of Cancer.

Titled as ‘Know Cancer – No Cancer’, the Panel Discussion revolved around the belief that only if we Know Cancer, can we work towards No Cancer!

The Programme was held in the Audio Visual Centre of Jai Hind College, Churchgate, with many students and Faculty of the College in attendance.

The Rotary Club of Bombay, apart from Mr. Suresh Goklaney and Dr. Ashok Kirpalani was represented by Dr. Suhas Shah, Ms. Arin Master and Ms. Elisabeth Prager.The Rotary District 3141 was represented by Dr. Shekhar Joshi, District Avenue Chair on Cancer.

The session began with Mrs. Indrani Malkani, Chairman and Trustee of VCAN, welcoming the Panelists and audience members, both at the venue and those online which included viewers from various countries.She briefly outlined the format of the Social Sanchar, and thanked Mr. Suresh Goklaney, former Executive Chairman of Eureka Forbes and Chairman of the Cancer Aid Committee of the Rotary Club of Bombay, as well as the President of Jai Hind College Board, for his proactive role in conceptualizing the programme.

Further thanks were extended to Eureka Forbes, VCAN’s Technology Partner Teknowlegion, and the Video-Tech Partner April Broadcast. Special thanks were expressed to friends in the media as well.

She also conveyed apologies on behalf of Dr. Sanjay Mukherjee, IAS, Secretary, Department of Medical Education and Drugs, Govt. of Maharashtra, one of the Panelists who was unable to attend due to a last minute emergency.

Mrs. Malkani commended the students of Jai Hind College, whom she referred to as ‘Young Adults’, for their help in organizing the event and particularly for spearheading a campaign to get fellow students from other colleges to participate. Due to their efforts, students of a number of other Colleges, including St. Xavier College, H. R. College, Sydenham College, M.M.K.College (Bandra), K.C. College, and NMIMS, joined in online.

Mr. V. Ranganathan, Trustee of VCAN and a former Chief Secretary of Maharashtra, then introduced the speakers to the audience and spoke about the topic at hand, recounting some of his own observations. He stressed on the importance of community engagement to spread awareness, about preventive measures and early detection, counselling and infrastructure provided to support cancer patients.

The Panelists were:
Dr. Ramakant Deshpande is a Padma Shri awardee, and is one of the pioneers of Thoracoscopy. He has been a Surgical Oncologist Consultant at various prestigious Hospitals and Institutes including Tata Memorial Hospital and the Asian Cancer Institute where Dr. Deshpande is the Executive Chairman.

He has authored several Publications in National and International Journals and has pioneered several surgeries and procedures for Esophageal malignant and benign disorders, among others.

Dr. Ian Pinto is a cancer and blood specialist, who has trained and worked in the US for the last 15 years at centers like Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NYU, State University New York, and Columbia.

Currently he is a Consultant Medical Oncologist and Hematologist at Jaslok Hospital, Breach Candy Hospital, Saifee Hospital and St Elizabeth Hospital.

Dr. Vinay Deshmane is a Surgical Oncologist and a specialist in Breast Diseases, and is currently attached to the Breach Candy Hospital, Hinduja Hospital, and the Asian Cancer Institute and has pioneered Breast Endoscopy in the country.

He is the Medical Director and a Trustee with the Indian Cancer Society and is in charge of The Mumbai Cancer Registry, India’s first Population Based Cancer Registration Programme, established over 50 years ago and the editor of the Indian Journal of Cancer.

Prof. (Dr.) Gautam Sen, MS FRCS Ed FRCS (Glasgow) Hon. FRSM (London) is an eminent medical academician. He has held many leadership positions in various national and international medical academic bodies including as a member of first Board of Governors of Medical Council of India (2010-2011), the Association of Surgeons of India as Director of Surgical Education, and as Chairman, Academic Council of Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI), headquartered in Delhi.

He is the Chairman of Healthspring Community Medical Centers- India’s first Primary Care provider in Private Sector.

Mrs. Malkani then invited the Panelists, led by Dr. Ramakant Deshpande, to give their opening remarks.

Dr. Deshpande began by thanking the organisers of the event, and shared with the audience that Cancer is perceived as one of the scariest diseases due to both its mortality as well as the perceived suffering associated with it.

He then briefly explained what Cancer actually was, and shared that there were 12,50,000 new cancer patients registered in 2017 in India alone of which 55% were women. Every 5th man and every 6th woman in India, will be affected by Cancer, with an estimated 60% mortality rate. This is a consequence of the lack of awareness, the impediments to affordability, and a lack of access to medical facilities, among others. He mentioned that Head & Neck, Lung, and Esophageal Cancer were the most common among men, and Breast, Cervical, and Ovarian Cancer were the most common Cancers among women.

He shared some of the ‘Danger Signals’ of Cancer, i.e. external symptoms of Cancer which we should watch out for, and mentioned some of the external causes particularly Tobacco, Alcohol, and Atmospheric Pollution. He stressed the importance of prevention of Cancer especially in a country like India, where the likelihood of mortality is almost double that of developed countries.

In India there is increasing incidents of Cancer in Women due to many external reasons such as pollution and hormonal stress.The importance of regular check-ups and examinations, especially post 30 years was stressed by Dr. Deshpande.

Dr. Deshpande invited the students to be Ambassadors and urged them to know about Cancer and volunteer their time to help in raising awareness, and counselling others. According to him, a policy of “Each one must reach one” will work best.

To view Dr. Deshpande’s presentation, click here.

Dr. Pinto then took the floor, and shared that it was his second time speaking at Jai Hind College. He shared that India had a relatively lower cancer incidence rate compared with the rest of the world, but the pattern is now changing.

He also revealed that many Cancer Patients put off getting examined due to various reasons and by the time they come in, it is often too late. The further the Cancer has advanced, the lower is the survival rate, and it is vital to screen and catch Cancer cases early.

He busted the myth that Cancer is mainly caused due to genetics as Cancer is genetically inherited in only 4-5% of the total patients. As Breast Cancer is the leading type of Cancer in India,Dr. Pinto also briefed the audience about some of the screening techniques available, which included Mammography, namely film mammography, digital mammography and 3D mammography. It is recommended to be done every 2-3 years, after 45 years of age. For Cervical Cancer, the use of PAP smears, as a diagnostic technique, by individuals above 21 years of age, at an interval of 2-3 years leads to a decline in the rate of occurrence of Cervical Cancer to a great extent.

He also mentioned the effectiveness of the HPV Vaccine for preventing Cervical Cancer. He further mentioned that once you pass a certain age, checks for Colon Cancer and Prostate Cancer should be regularly undertaken. A colonoscopy every 10 years, after the age of 50 years is best suited to detect Colon Cancer, and Low dose CT screening is recommended to be done at an interval of 2-3 years, after the age of 50 for the detection of Lung Cancer.

Dr. Pinto also mentioned some warning signs, including, low appetite, blood in sputum, chronic pain, and many more. As a lifestyle recommendation, he recommended restricting the consumption of alcohol to once a week instead of once a day.

Dr. Pinto then spoke about some of the new treatments that are available and mentioned that while many people are hesitant to consider Chemotherapy, new advances have made it much less harmful and more effective. Other strategies for treating Cancer currently being used widely are CAR (Chimeric Antigen Receptors), T-cells therapy involving treatment using a patient’s T-cells (a type of immune cells) which are engineered with CARs so that they specifically attack cancer cells.

To view Dr. Pinto’s presentation, click here.

Dr. Deshmane then addressed the audience, and revealed with pride that he himself was a former student of Jai Hind College. He began by talking about the Indian Cancer Society, India’s oldest Cancer NGO, and its contribution to raising Cancer awareness in India. He then spoke about the Mumbai Cancer Registry, which collects and analyzes data, publishes reports and answers queries from the Government regularly regarding Cancer in Maharashtra. It looks for trends in incidence, cluster pockets and patterns in the community, identifies correctable causes & prevents Cancer, looks for trends in mortality and survival patterns and assesses the effectiveness of treatments.

He shared that while Cancer incidence has not increased at a rate where we should panic, due to our population explosion, the absolute number of Cancer patients have increased, putting a strain on our resources and medical infrastructure.

In terms of Breast Cancer, Dr. Deshmane’s specialty, he shared that while India’s Breast Cancer rates are only a third of those in the Developed world, our Mortality Rates are still quite high.

He explained what some of the signs to look out for in Breast Cancer were, including formation of lumps, skin changes, changes in nipple and areola, fluid secretion from nipple, funny sensations in the breast, etc. He stressed that even if a lump is found, there is no need to panic, since there have been several developments in treatment including genetic therapy and radiation therapy. He added that for early detected solid tumors, the best treatment is high quality Surgery.

To view Dr. Deshmane’s presentation, click here.

Prof. (Dr.) Gautam Sen, who heads VCAN’s Knowledge Partner Healthspring, then began by speaking about the importance of Primary Care and early detection, underlining that the responsibility starts with every one of us, as we have to make the first effort towards approaching our doctors.

Dr. Sen stated that the prevention of Cancer can be brought about by the use of the right resources, at the right place, and at the right time.

He spoke about some of the measures taken by the Government including the Health Policy 2017, the first such Policy since 1983, ‘Ayushman Bharat’ and other primary health programmes, to detect the disease early before it progresses to an advanced stage. Investing in one’s own Health is a necessary investment.

Dr. Sen emphasized that reduction of Risk factors can only be done at the Primary level and spoke about preventative vaccinations and stressed that Cancer is curable.

He ended his speech by encouraging the students to get involved and volunteer their time and efforts in helping to spread awareness.

Dr. Ashok Wadia, Principal of Jai Hind College, then welcomed the Audience as the host of the Venue. He briefly mentioned the contribution of Jai Hind to various areas, including the field of medicine. He elaborated on“College Social Responsibility” and the emphasis Jai Hind College places on their students “giving back to society”.

He stated that the vision of Jai Hind College is to create leaders, who are good citizens. Every hospital has at least one doctor who is an alumni of Jai Hind College, and students of Jai Hind have also been working towards various kinds of research in Cancer.

However, he noted that this was not enough, and hence the Health Ambassador Programme, a partnership between Asian Cancer Institute, Healthspring, and Jai Hind College, along with VCAN, was then formally launched. Several Students of Jai Hind had come forward to be trained as “Health Ambassadors” at the Healthspring Centers and later spread awareness among the community.

Dr. Wadia made it clear that this was not a onetime activity but represented a life-long commitment by the students volunteering to become Health Ambassadors.

The floor was then opened to the audience, both physical and virtual, to ask their questions.

The first question was on whether Yoga could cure cancer. Dr. Deshpande said that while yoga helps in recovery and helping focus patients, it is not a substitute for conventional Cancer treatments.

To a question on the HPV Vaccine, Dr. Pinto said that the Vaccination has been known to be very effective, the vaccine should be given between the ages of 11 to 16, as sexual activity is known to spread HPV, and the later the vaccine is given, the lesser its utility.

To a question on why ladies shouldn’t get Pap Smears after the age of 65, Dr. Pinto and Dr. Deshpande explained that while the incidence of Cervical Cancer is usually before that age, they can definitely do the test at any age.

Dr. Deshmane then replied to a question whether fasting 20 times a year would prevent cancer. He maintained that while not directly preventing Cancer, preventing obesity does prevent several other related ailments.

Responding to a question on why usage of tobacco still continues despite awareness of its harm, Dr. Deshpande said that though tobacco consumption has significantly reduced in the developed world, people still had freedom of choice. Dr. Pinto then mentioned the effectiveness of heavy taxation on tobacco products, and Dr. Sen spoke about how the idea of smoking is still seen by many among the youth as ‘fashionable’. Dr. Deshmane also mentioned about the harmful effects of other tobacco products such as paan and gutka.

Dr. Wadia also gave his own insight as an educator, and appealed to the students to resist peer pressure and keep their own health in mind.

To a question on whether passive smoking i.e. second hand smoking is harmful, the doctors all agreed that it was harmful to everyone around.

On whether the heart also could develop cancer, Dr. Deshpande clarified that it was not very common, but usually only occurred at very late stage.

As to whether enlarged Prostates could indicate Prostate Cancer, Dr. Deshpande said that the two are not directly linked, as an enlarged Prostate may be benign,but the two conditions often occur around the same age.

On the expense of the HPV Vaccine, the Panel said that while there was no government assistance towards the vaccine, eventually an Indian company would be likely to manufacture a less costly version.

Due to a paucity of time, Mrs. Malkani informed the audience that the remaining questions would be passed on to the panelists and posted online at a later date.

Mrs. Malkani then informed the audience about the initiative of the Rotary Club of Bombay that Jaslok Hospital would be conducting several tests free of charge during the 1st to the 10th of December. For details, one can contact Ms. Vrushali Palekar at 22024089 or

Similarly, the S. L. Raheja Hospital – a Fortis Associate has also come forward. The detailed schedule will be shortly confirmed. Once the details are received, it will be published on our Portal.

Before concluding the discussion, Mrs. Malkani stated that Cancer was not something to run away from, not to be spooked from, and not to get scared of. If it has to come, it will. But let’s make it very, very difficult for Cancer to enter our lives. That is something we should all endeavor for.

The programme then ended with a vote of thanks given by Mrs. Malkani, and the presentation of mementos on behalf of VCAN, the Rotary Club of Bombay, and Jai Hind College, to the Panelists.

Mementos were also presented by VCAN to Mr. Goklaney as the head of the Cancer Aid Committee, and to Dr. Wadia as the Principal of Jai Hind College.

The audience was then invited to continue the interaction over light refreshments provided by Jai Hind College.

To view the photos of the event click here.
To view the video of the event click here.