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State-wide cancer awareness programme inaugurated

Posted on Feb 05, 03:37PM | UNI

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 4 : Fear of the disease could be a major reason for many cancer deaths, Governor of Mizoram Vakkom B Purushothaman said while inaugurating the state-wide awareness programme on the occasion of World Cancer Day here today.

Choked with emotion, the Governor told hundreds of students of St Mary's Higher Secondary School, Pattom here, 'When my mother was 80 years, she underwent an operation for breast cancer. On the advice of her doctor, we did not tell our mother about her condition though she was on medications. She lived without any complications for three years. A chance remark made by a relative about her disease, however, took her through a phase of fear, and she passed away within two months of that knowledge.'

Mr Purushothaman also emphasised the importance of sound education for children. 'Even those who hail from deprived socio-economic backgrounds can do well in life with education. Education is bitter, but its fruits are sweet,' he added.

Organising Secretary, Santhigiri Ashram, Swami Gururetnam Jnana Thapaswi who presided over the function said similar cancer awareness programmes would be conducted in educational institutions across Kerala.

Director of Public Instruction A Shajahan exhorted students to keep away from tobacco products as they are proven to be a major cancer-causing factor. 'Smoking and tobacco chewing might seem heroic to students, but they result in endless misery. Around 45 per cent of cancers are attributed to tobacco use.'

Shajahan also told students about the efforts taken by the Government and his department for tobacco control efforts. Committees have been formed at the state, district and school level for implementing the Government's intent of strict monitoring of tobacco use among students.

'The Committees at the school level, which also has representation from the police and PTA has been authorised to ensure that no tobacco products are sold around schools,' he added.

An interactive session called 'Cancer - Did you know?' followed in which students raised wide-ranging questions on cancer and its treatment. Among others, they wanted to know if cancer is contagious; if hereditary factors play a major role and the importance of lifestyle adjustments. Prof. and Head, Community Oncology Dr Remani Wesley; Addl Prof., Surgical Oncology, RCC Dr Paul Augustin and Asst Prof., Community Oncology Dr R Jayakrishnan collectively answered student queries.

Dr Wesley emphasised the need for practising sexual hygiene to prevent cancers of the uterus and cervix caused by Human Pappiloma Virus. 'The chances of contracting this virus infection are higher in those who have sexual contact before the age of 20 as immunity towards this is lesser in this age group. Students should maintain limits when having friendships with opposite sex,' she said.

The programme was jointly organised by Swasthi Charitable Foundation and Tobacco Free Kerala, a coalition led by Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) for tobacco control in the state.