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Informative Session and Student interaction with Professor G. K. Rath, Head of National Cancer Institute. Monday, Nov 11, 2019


The students were fortunate to have an informative session with Professor G.K. Rath, Head of National Cancer Institute of India on his recent visit to the university. Prof Rath is heading India’s largest and the most prestigious cancer institute. He is also the Chief of the BR Ambedkar Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, AIIMS. He has dedicated his entire career to cancer education and research.  He enlightened the students on various aspects of cancer, including the fact that cancer is curable. According to him, about 60% of cancers are preventable and most of them are curable, if diagnosed early. He also talked about risk factors associated with various cancers. It was quite revealing to know that tobacco smoking is the leading cause for more than 20 cancers. He also touched upon breast cancer and pointed out that it is one of the least preventable type of cancer as risk factors are not so certain and only 10% of the women have the biomarkers which may detect future occurrence. Hence, a lot of new research spanning from epidemiology to basic science and clinical investigations are needed in such cancers. He recommended that women should conduct self-breast examination (for lumps) and after age 50 should get mammograms done as a screening measure. With his extensive experience in the field of cancer, he strongly believes that the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination among young girls/women is absolutely necessary in the Indian context to prevent incidence of cervical cancer. He pointed out the increased prevalence of oral cancers among people who consumed paan (betel leaf and nut) in India indicating the role of beetle nut consumption as a major risk factor for such cancers. He is of the opinion that there is a need to function efficiently to lower the future incidence of various cancer types in the country through promoting healthy behavior and life-styles. He highlighted the diversity among cancer rates in different geographic areas of India, and how new insights can be obtained from epidemiologic studies that only public health experts can conduct. He also emphasized on awareness and health promotion, again, important domains of public health that need shouldering by students of public health in addressing the burgeoning cancer problem in India and around the globe.

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