The financial status of India, though, is seeing an elevated graph in the last four to five decades along with improvement in life of the common men, but the burden that the cancer patients put on Indian economy is also rising. Cancer prevalence is estimated to be approximately 2.5 million with about 800,000 new cases reporting every year. About 550,000 deaths reported due to malignant diseases.
Cancer is considered to be a group of life style-related diseases. Many types of cancer have strong association with certain risk factors e.g. tobacco consumption and smoking dispose the individuals to oro-respiratory cancers. Drastically altered life style (including food and behaviors), lack of physical exercise, alcohol consumption and infections are a few of the other such risk factors, which can be avoided and thereby certain cancers can be prevented. This would ultimately ease the economic burden. Despite sustained advertisement against the use of tobacco, the consumers take it lightly or rather ignore it until someone falls prey to this dreaded disease.
Two very significant points emerge from the above-mentioned data. By the time the disease is diagnosed majority of the patients are in very advanced stage, which contribute to high cancer mortality rate in our country. Secondly, lack of awareness and casual approach towards certain preventable infection also put economic burden when these lead to development of malignant diseases.
Ayurveda has a greater role to play in this field. Advocacy of diet habits, behaviors and living in harmony with other plant and animal species within the biosphere are the strong points of Ayurveda, which can contribute significantly towards reduction of the health problems and thereby improving the Indian economy. Also important is the fact that Ayurvedic treatment provides very good relief, or complete cure in some of the cancers. The quality of life of terminally ill cancer patients also improves with Ayurvedic treatment. Many Ayurvedic physicians dealing with cancer patients have found that some patients with predicted life expectancy of a few months have survived for several years with Ayurvedic treatment. There are many such potentials in Ayurveda.
Ayurvedic fraternity needs to work hard to present all these data in a scientific way to the government and a strategy to include Ayurveda in national programme of cancer awareness, preventive and treatment modalities should be designed. A multidisciplinary (including Ayurveda) concerted effort and approach in dealing with cancer patients will be very beneficial. Considering the limited resources that the Ayurvedic fraternity is having for the research in this subject, not much was anticipated other than conceptual and clinical work. What extent drug regimen would be revealed by the private practitioners was also a major concern. However, an overwhelming response was received. It was a daunting task to select the papers. A balance had to be maintained between the different areas in the field of oncology such as conceptual, drug research, clinical work etc. An honest effort is made in this regard so that maximum knowledge can be propagated.
A part of this book covers the articles by the very respectful Ayurvedic professionals whose vast clinical experiences are much awaited by others. A major bulk of this issue comprises of compilation work. Pharmacological work on the drugs claimed to possess anticancer effects, conceptual work about patho-physiological changes during the development of cancer, several case studies and some clinical works also find place in this book.
A very interesting concept of how cancer might develop is narrated by some worker, where the author explains how abnormal and deranged dhatvagni, particularly that of mamsa dhatu agni, can result into development of an abnormal dhatu, which could turn malignant. Based on this physiologic principle he has suggested some drugs and even tried these drugs in a variety of cancer patients. The hypothesis appears very promising. If dravyaguna and rasa shastra-bhaishajya kalpana specialists (Ayurvedic pharmacologists) can study and find out the actions of drugs on various dhatvagnis it would help the Ayurvedic practitioners to clinically apply in their practice. Similarly there is an analysis about correlation between prakriti and predisposition or susceptibility to development of cancer in the patients with a particular prakriti. Though this study comprises a very few number of cases, but still the work is mind catching.
There are some interesting case studies also, each based on different understanding of various Ayurvedic principles. Everyone knows that some cancer patients in very advanced stages defy all the predictions and do well surviving beyond the predicted life expectancy or have completely recovered with Ayurvedic therapy. This has led oncologists all over the world to think again about the so-called immortality of malignant cells.
Many Ayurvedic principles are gaining acceptance because of such unbelievable success in malignant diseases and other incurable diseases. Genomic interactions with epigenetic factors (which can be closely comparable to prakriti concept) and pharmacogenomics (customised treatment according to patient's prakriti, bala, desha, kaal etc) are a few of such principles.
I am sure this issue will be very interesting and stimulate the young scientists to work in this and other such directions to meet the demands of the present-day society to find the cure of such dreaded diseases.
Finally I would like to give special thanks to authors contributed papers to this book for their valuable time and interest.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India for their continued support to RAV in all its activities.
I appreciate the staff of RAV for their dedicated efforts to accomplish the targets given by the department on time.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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