Cancer isn’t a disease of old age and can affect children as well, said former President A P J Abdul Kalam, which is why he advocated inculcating lessons on cancer in the curriculum for primary school. “Cancer prevention should be taught at the school level. A lot of people believe that it is an old person’s disease but that is not so,” said the scientist, speaking at the inauguration of Apollo Hospitals’ Afro-Asian Cancer Conclave.
Talking about cancer care, Kalam said, “Treating physiology alone cannot cure cancer, even their psychology needs to be addressed. It is unfortunate that patients are not approached in a holistic manner. According to a study on the psychological distress among 3,000 cancer patients from 20 hospitals, almost 40% experienced moderate to severe distress needing help. There are 18 lakh cancer patients of which 7.8 lakh need help. I would suggest that a special psychologist should work with an oncologist to rectify this situation.”
The conclave, which was largely attended by health ministry officials from African nations like Tanzania and Zimbabwe, had 2,100 delegates hailing from 28 countries. It was inaugurated by Kalam as well as Apollo Hospitals Group chairman Dr Prathap C Reddy and managing director Preetha Reddy.
Speaking to oncologists and delegates, Kalam also said, “If every oncologist saves at least 100 patients in their life time, that means you have the potential to save 50,000 cancer patients.”