All stories, Cancer Classroom( Decoding cancer)

Doctor….I have already smoked for 10 odd yrs…damage done!! So why to stop it now????

Quit smoking to reduce cancer risk
Smoking and Lung Cancer?

A very practical and intelligent query indeed!!!

Well, just because we are discussing this after 10 years of smoking,  it clearly means, damage or no damage, the manifestation of the dreaded disease “cancer” is still not obvious.

So we still have a chance, knowing that we are toying with a definite killer!

Not all carcinogen exposure (read tobacco/ smoking, etc) may have a defined window period. There is a possibility, that it may damage your genetic structure. Changes in the genetic structure alter the natural cell division resulting in uncontrolled cell growth. This uncontrolled cell growth manifests as cancer of any particular organ (most likely – head & Neck, lungs, food pipe, urinary bladder, etc).

The time of onset/ severity and aggressiveness of cancer may be difficult to guess. Lucky few, skip the potential damage early in their exposure years. Although, what is clear that every puff inhaled ultimately is an external modifier of your internal harmony, which will result in anything that may present as cancer, lung disease, blood pressure or heart ailment.

As far as a potential onset of cancer is concerned, some individuals may be at a higher risk due to lack of immunity/ body mechanism or building blocks (genes) that put one individual at a higher risk vs the others.

In a perfect world,  the potential cancer threat may manifest itself only 50-60 years or even later, by when we may have already completed our life cycle.

By adding these uncontrolled (environmental) and self-opted (smoking, etc) risk, we invite potentially life-threatening carcinogens to toy with our lives and the diseases, health problems manifest much earlier than expected, very much in our remaining lifetime. To top it all the external, self-induced factors also multiply the potential severity and lethality of cancer manifold.

Having said that, we must always know that NO EXPOSURE and Not smoking is always the best prevention. Still, even if we realize late, it makes a lot of sense to call it QUITS, as soon as possible. We still stand a fair chance of actually not having the lethal hit on our genes, that may result in diseases, cancers and a worrying future ahead.

Its rightly said, what we do today, becomes our past and also decides our future tomorrow. So what’s done is done. We can only decide our today, and if we decide to quit – for sure we have negated further damage and hopefully can work upon to undo the damage of the past.

Moreover, even if the last 10 years of exposure had a toll, subsequent exposure free time will prepare our body better for the battles ahead. At least we face a less severe opponent than what would have been with continued years of those killer puffs!!

To get a second opinion on your cancer,  from the best oncologists in the country, click here or write to us on care@cancerx.co.in

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The author Dr Ashu Abhishek is unit head radiation oncology at Fortis Hospitals Gurgaon

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