Special of the week; Issue 15-70 "Early Detection of Cancer Saves Lives"
And he or the national educational radio network presents special of the week. Are you afraid of contracting cancer. Oh I certainly am. Why so many people die each year of cancer. This question now may seem such a ghastly disease. I don't I don't really think enough research is done into cancer. If you saw it you will have cancer. Would you go to your doctor. Yes I would go to the doctor right away. Because. I think in the early stages sick I understand it can be prevented if it is caught early enough. Does the word cancer strike any sort of fear in you. Yes slightly and does yes. Why. Because my brother in law was dying with it and it seems to be more prevalent lately. So if you've got a pain in your lungs or you you thought you might have contracted something. Would you go to the doctor straight away. I don't think I would know. Why not.
While possibly the pain could be something else I just wait and see if it cleared itself. Does the word cancer frighten you at all very clearly. Are you afraid you might contract it. I have never given it serious thought. If you were told you had contracted cancer. Would it frighten you. Why. Nobody want to die. Do you think you would necessarily die. Not this modern treatment but probably so 50/50. Does the word cancer frighten you too. Why. Because usually you die. Does Cancer frightening you. No not actively. Do you ever think about it. I sometimes think connection with cigarette smoking. But I can say that it's something it's a constant worry to me. Do you smoke yourself cigarettes that is his idea. I thought hunted it but he doesn't worry you.
The fact that you possibly could contract lung cancer. From time to time especially when I read articles in the newspapers I think that it that it passes over quite quickly. Do you think it can be cured. I think one day a cure will be found for tests. But at the moment it's rather imperfect. So if you thought you had contracted cancer say cancer the longer would you go to the doctor straightaway. Certainly. Mediately does the word cancer frighten you. He doesn't fight me personally because I think I'm young but. He frightens me for older people for instance my parents. Who smoke. And I think of it in terms of them more than myself. So do you equate cigarette smoking with lung cancer. Let me say it's one of the reasons I don't smoke. If you were told you had contracted cancer. Yes. Would it frighten you. Yes it would. Although. I have confidence in the advances that have been made in treating it early if it is detected early. So you think the key to much of the treatment for cancer is
early detection. Definitely yes I do. And if you thought you had cancer. Of any type you go to your doctor straightaway. Even before that I would go for regular checkups. These are the voices of people on the street. Now what about you. Are you too frightened by the word cancer. Why is it that so many people are afraid of that particular these. Why is it that many people to marry people when they think they might have cancer. The lady seeking medical advice. On behalf of W H O O P Wilson of the BBC inquired about this in England or more particularly in Manchester and Liverpool. Here are some of the statements made by sociologists and health education specialists Mr John Wakefield head of the Department of Social Research Christie Hospital Manchester. Cancer being a disease which advances from a curable to eventually an incurable state of its left untreated must be caught early and the whole of the
educational program is geared towards making people more confident of the outcome if they seek treatment promptly. In your experience what is the attitude of the public towards cancer. In general the attitude is still one of a rather unthinking fearfulness about a disease which for so many centuries has been incurable. People still have this quite mindless fear of the disease which tends to make them think of it as something which isn't going to be cured so there's no point in going to a doctor to be told you've got a disease you're going to die of anyway. How do you set about trying to convince people not to be frightened of cancer. I don't think you can. Persuade them not to be frightened of cancer. And on the whole I think that it's part of one's essential defense mechanisms to be frightened of serious disease but not to the point where it becomes a form of paralysis against all reasonable action. What you want is for people to have just sufficient alarm about symptoms that crop up to
take them to a doctor. What is really needed I think is not so much to take all the fear out of cancer but to let people see that so much more can be done for this disease than they had thought in the past and particularly for example to let them know just how many thousands of people there are walking around the cured of this disease who never have any trouble from it again. Something like 20 or 30 thousand a year in England and Wales alone. The population of a sizeable town each year. This is Patricia Hobbs administrator Merseyside Cancer Education Committee. Liverpool. Well we know from our survey of public opinion that a large proportion of people do think that basically cancer can't be cured and as long as that is sell then it's important for us to carry on education about this subject because of course if someone thinks that cancer can be cured and they then get something wrong with them which they suspect is cancer thinking that it can't be cured they just don't see any point in going to the doctor with what's wrong. Now sometimes because they haven't got cancer so what are they doing. They're continuing to suffer from whatever
it is that they've got physically and they're also suffering mentally thinking they've got some disease that can't be cured and that's bad enough but then you've got people who are right in what they're fearing that I have got cancer. But now what they're doing is wasting valuable time because cancer caught at an early stage we have a good chance of producing it completely or as time goes on and develops into the further stages and the chances of a cure become less and less. Mr. Rennie Davis an executive officer Magister regional committee on cancer. We could say if you find a lump in the breast any bleeding or sorrow that doesn't seem to heal up this sort of thing don't go and see a doctor because this might be cancer but this wouldn't go anywhere near to solving the problem. Because so many people do know these things and it's because they know that they delay. In other words the main reason and the most difficult reason to deal with for delay is fear. We know that the main reason for this
fear is that the public at large still does not believe that cancer is ever or frequently cured. It's a social problem. It's not a medical one. What people really need to know. Is first of all that many forms of cancer are curable especially when they're treated in time. Mrs. Hobbs again the most important thing to know about cancer is that the treated the better the chance we have of curing it. Most of the facts that most people have about cancer are on the dismal side. It's interesting that you hear about the people who die of cancer. You very rarely hear about the people who have been successfully treated for cancer. And I was talking about cured. You don't hear about the ones that we cured only about the ones who die. It's very unfortunate because. Sometimes the mere fact that people feel and think that it is always incurable
stops some people from getting a cure that is actually available to them. Now if someone has something wrong with them which they suspect is cancer and if they also believe that cancer be cured. Are they likely to go to the doctor they don't want. Hence the necessity for early detection. Mr. John Wakefield you have people dying from forms of cancer which doctors know to be treatable curable things that will not crop up again during the sufferer's lifetime if they're dealt with at a very early stage in the development. Mr. Rennie Davis and in this country we cure about 25000 people of cancer every year. If we could achieve a situation in Britain where everyone with a symptom saw the doctor as soon as the symptoms arose. Then we could cure somewhere between 15 and 20 thousand more patients. We have it in our hands now to cure
another 15 or 20 thousand from patients with forms of cancer for which the the secret has been found the treatment method is available. Research has done its work. Is it just true that we can cure these patients. Why is it that they don't get into hospital soon enough. And to find the answer to this we must look not at medicine but at society because most of the delay takes place before the patient sees the doctor. That is that the delay is the patient's responsibility. If someone finds a lump in the breast or notes a bit of bleeding after the change of life and does nothing for a week a month two months six months two years even. So that by the time they do get this scene too it's often too late for curative treatment to be effective. Now a lot of the whirling signs through often wrongly interpreted the truth
encourage you to go and see a doctor. Here they are described by Mr Rennie Davidson. There are certain warning signs which one should pay attention to because they are abnormal because they are a sign that something has gone wrong and they should be shown to the doctor. The least likely explanation of all of these is cancer. But in any case they're abnormal and they require medical advice. A persistent sore place for instance on the skin or in the mouth if it persists for two weeks or so. The same is true of persistent hoarseness. Usually persistent hostility is something that can be cleared up with antibiotics or something like this. But if it should be cancer. Cancer of the vocal cord of the larynx. Then treated early. The cure rate is well over 80 percent. If a woman finds a lump in the breast or if anyone finds a lump in the breast or anywhere else that doesn't seem to
be going away after a couple of weeks or so it should be shown to the doctor. Most lumps in the breast are not cancer. Plenty are bleeding from any body orifice. If it persists an expected reading should be shown to the doctor. Particularly when this involves the warm. Or when one passes blood in the urine. These are things that require medical advice at once. If everyone with this sort of warning sign were to see the doctor as soon as it appeared then we would cure thousands more people of cancer in this country every year. And now let us go to the more hopeful part of this program and ask two of the most eminent can through ologists in England. What are the most accessible and the most easy to treat forms of cancer and the proportion of people cured. Dr. Eric Easton director of radiotherapy Christie hospital and Holt radium
Institute Manchester interviewed by Aubrey Wilson which are the most easily detectable forms of cancer. Well clearly the most easily detected cancers are those that occur in the most easily examined parts of the body. For example it is easy to detect cancer of the skin because it's visible. It's easy to detect cancer of the breast because it can be palpated. It is easy to detect cancer of the uterine cervix by examining the cervix by filling the cervix or even to predict that it might occur there by taking some kind of smear or site or test or Pappa Niccolo smear. Some of the more deeply seated cancers are still relatively difficult to detect. Why is early detection so necessary Dr. Eason. This is very simple. The smaller a tumor the more easy it is other to remove it surgically or to
treat it successfully by radiation. The bigger the tumor the less successful. So the sooner we treat it the better. And what do you think it is that prevents some people from seeking this early medical advice. First of all I think that they are unaware of how effective the treatment of cancer can be. The very word means a death knell to too many people. This ignorance leads to fear and this fear. Leads to delay and now to Professor Richard Dar Regis professor of medicine Oxford University. Well if we can detect cancer earlier than we do now we should certainly increase the opportunities of saving life. Best example is cancer of the large bowel. If we could do a chemical test like we could now detect the presence of cancer the liver detect cancer of the Koran before it's given rise to obstruction or other symptoms in the bow.
Then we might well hope to have a 90 or even 100 percent cure rate. Dr. Eason on the proportion of cured patients what is the proportion of cured patients. It is obviously essential to distinguish between one kind of cancer and another. And clearly the proportion of patients cured of letters say cancer of the cervix of the womb depends on the size of the tumor at the time of treatment. If we take the small tumor at that site some 70 to 80 percent of patients with that kind of cancer. Can be gotten cured by modern methods of treatment. If the disease however has spread more widely then the cure ability becomes less. Can you give us any more examples. Yes if one takes cancer of the vocal cord some 80 percent or more of these patients can be
cured provided the tumor is small. Cancer of the breast. When the tumor is small again some 60 or 70 percent of these can be cured. So what are the most curable forms of cancer. The most curable ones at the moment are those that are most accessible and most readily diagnosed when they are quite small. Skin breast larynx the womb and the bladder. Some of the most curable ones today were considered incurable. A couple of decades ago the Cure ability the extent to which we can cure certain kinds of cancer has been improving steadily during the last three decades or so. I'm quite certain that cancers considered today beyond effective treatment. We're within a decade become more amenable to current methods of treatment.
As the public and the medical profession learn more about the hopeful side of cancer treatment. We shall also I'm sure see our patients at an earlier and much more curable stage on the same subject. What of the Cure ability of cancer. Professor doc this there is very greatly with the type of cancer for cancer of the skin. The cure rate should be a hundred percent and near enough it is and many other cancers the cure rate is well over 50 percent. Cancer of the large bowel is sought which we can be particularly confident of a cure. Apart from cancers a large bow are eminently curable ones are those of the town and the larynx the breast. Also common type of cancer in women presents. There are good opportunities for a cure if it is detected reasonably early that the proof that cancer can be cured comes from the evidence of cured patients
themselves. Here is one of them who was operated in 1956 for cancer of the larynx. How long is it since you were operated on for the removal of a cancer which of course you had on your larynx. Mr Troll will now talk here as well as have you had any recurrence of trouble at all. Not really no. When you discovered you got cancer of the larynx frightening everybody was quite friendly in those days rather alarmed. But I was told exactly what sort of treatment I would be having. Lambert who is in charge of the clinic at that time gave me a few reassuring words and said he thought he could fix it. You were a sales representative before you contracted cancer. Yes after you were treated. What happened to you then have you worked since then as I was what I was after about two months my voice gradually came back as they promised it would and I was able to carry on and you can know that I don't ever since I still working at it I'm still working and now to a 49 year old lady operated in 1965 for cancer of the lower spine
if you were told so tomorrow that you had a cancerous growth somewhere. It wasn't high five. Well no I mean it's just you that it's maybe not fair to people who haven't experienced what I've experienced. But why is there such an emphasis put on the word cancer. No I mean it's just it's just our now great Izzy's. But so much can be done so far and people will shun it. Do you think that anybody who contracts cancer needs to be afraid of the fact that they have contracted it. Certainly not every newspaper you pick up you hear of things being done for cancer. And there's so many people going about in the world who've had cancer of cancer as mentioned in any conversation. I'm the first to say I've had cancer. Really I don't think anyone should be afraid of the word cancer. I mean it's just
like any other disease it can be treated. It can be done and you can grow up outliving our normal my life and now to prevention of course it's not easy to prevent some forms of cancer. When you ignore the symptoms or when fear delays you from seeking medical advice. But there is at least one form of cancer. One of the most dangerous of the most widespread which you can prevent to a large extent and it is cancer of the lungs. Here are the opinions of four specialists on this critical subject. Fast talk to Ethan. There is at present no hope of any universal preventive measure for preventing all kinds of cancer. If one takes for example cancer of the lung. One of the biggest killers in the western world today and is continuing to increase. The only method of prevention known to us is the prevention of cigarette smoking. Dr PJ lawfare director air pollution with that unit
British Medical Research Council London lung cancer is an extremely rare disease among nonsmokers and an extremely common disease among smokers. If you don't smoke cigarettes you have a very small chance of getting lung cancer and if you smoke the chances go up directly with the number smoked. The amount you inhale and what is even more important and I say this with a deep feeling of moral obligation. The moment you give up so your chances of getting lung cancer lessen. So let's not kid ourselves about this because after all everyone's got some old relative who smoke 60 cigarettes a day and he's 90 years old and fighting fit and everybody knows some poor person who's got lung cancer who's never smoked a cigarette in their life. My favorite reply to this is that this doesn't mean anything more. Then you can shut your eyes tightly and cross a busy road and you might get to the other side without getting killed. It isn't a sensible thing to do to a question of risk not everybody
who smokes gets drunk but your chances are mathematically predictable depending upon the amount smoked. Mrs Patricia Hobbs answering a question from the audience at a public meeting. What is the connection please between smoking and lung cancer. A very close one. If you take the people who died of cancer of the lung. Nearly all of them were smokers. Now that's not to say they all were. It is possible to get cancer of the lung without ever having smoked at all but it's highly unlikely. The chances are about 1 in 300 of nonsmokers that they'll get cancer of the lung are there. Every smoker that's a person who smokes 20 or more a day for 20 years or so his chances are one in eight. And this is the difference that the cigarette smoking makes cancer of the lung connected with cigarette smoking is an increasing risk every day. The risk is greater and as long as they go on smoking they will go on increasing the risk as soon as they stop they stop increasing the risk and they begin to
decrease it. And Ballack time a person has been an ex smoker for five years. He's back down to the risk level of the nonsmoker. Professor Richard Dong Well there's no question that at the present moment the single step which is most important for the prevention of cancer is the elimination or at any rate the major reduction of cigarette smoking. Many of my colleagues who have studied this problem have come to the conclusion that it's absolute madness to continue with cigarette smoking which at the best gives them a minor pleasure whereas it carries with it an enormously increased risk of death and of mobility and. At a fairly early age this without question is the easiest and the most important means we have at the present moment preventing cancer. Now your warms as expressed by Dr Embry Kandar
Director General W. H O. In his World Health Day message cancer is a disease which is commonly and wrongly believed to be untreatable a disease from which many people die or suffer needlessly because whether from ignorance or unreasoned fear they do not seek advice until it is too late. At present however the fact has to be recognised that many cancers are not yet preventable. The best medicine can offer is the treatment of cancer patients as early and completely as possible. In some cases complete cure of cancer is now possible and almost all forms of cancer can be controlled. Successful treatment of cancer often depends on early to take action to take Sion before the disease has spread. If World Health Day this year contributes to a better informed public attitude towards the
- Special of the week
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-SPWK-469 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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- APA: Special of the week; Issue 15-70 "Early Detection of Cancer Saves Lives". Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-b27psv2k