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  • Aug 31
  • Oncology

Preventive Oncology Treatment

It’s true that cancer can be prevented. The World Health Organisation mentions that 30-50 percent of deaths from cancer could be prevented by modifying or avoiding certain risk factors that lead to the deadly disease. Remember the proverb ‘prevention is better than cure’? It works indeed.

What is preventive oncology?

It is an interdisciplinary branch of medical science that aims to prevent cancer and its development or progression through effective measures such as lifestyle modifications and avoiding the risk factors. This is all done through specialized strategies in place.

Let’s first look at the risk factors that are the root cause of all cancers.

Major risk factors that cause cancer:

The typical causes that have been known to increase your risk of getting any type of cancer are:

  • Smoking and tobacco consumption
  • Alcohol
  • Sedentary lifestyle without any exercise
  • High fat, red meat diet without fruits and vegetables
  • Obesity
  • Unprotected sex is associated with the spread of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which causes certain cancers in men and women
  • Exposure to radiation – from sunlight as well as from X rays, CT scans, nuclear medicine scans, etc
  • Environmental factors such as air pollution from vehicles and certain fuels, drinking water contaminated with chemicals, and second-home tobacco smoke

By keeping all these risk factors at bay, you can prevent certain cancers to a great extent.

Stages of Prevention:

Cancer is not a single disease but a group of related diseases. This is why there are different types of cancers and several causes that can increase or even decrease your chances of getting the dreaded disease.

Cancer prevention is ideally followed in three typical stages – Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Prevention.

Primary Prevention: This stage is launched well before the onset of the disease by eliminating or avoiding all risk factors associated with cancer such as smoking, and changes in lifestyle, diet, and environment.

Cancer Vaccination: Vaccines are scientifically prepared medicines that help you fight diseases. There are various types of vaccines for different diseases. Similarly, there are also vaccines that can prevent you from getting cancer. Presently, there are two particular vaccines that protect you against specific cancers – the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Hepatitis B vaccines.

Certain bacteria and, viruses can cause serious infections leading to cancer. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can cause cervical, vaginal, anal, and vulvar cancer if it remains in your body for a long time.

The Hepatitis B virus can cause liver cancer.

These deadly viral infections can be prevented if a healthy person without any signs of cancer undergoes vaccinations.

Genetic Screening: Genetic testing can estimate your chance of developing cancer especially if you have a family history of a type of cancer. The tests look for specific changes or mutations in your genes, chromosomes, or proteins.

While genetic tests cannot foretell whether you will get cancer, they can predict if you are indeed at higher risk for the disease.

It helps to also remember that only some people with a gene mutation will develop cancer, not all.

Genetic testing is usually recommended as a crucial part of cancer prevention because it can:

  • Track if you have the genes that may pass on increased cancer risk to your children and future generations in your family
  • Predict your risk of a particular disease including cancer
  • Prepare vital information to guide your cancer care plan

Secondary Prevention
This stage is about finding precancerous conditions early, well before any clinical symptoms or indications begin to show up. This is helpful if you have a family history of a type of cancer

Chemoprevention: This is a revolutionary cancer preventive strategy where certain medicines are administered to treat a precancerous condition or to even keep cancer from developing.

These can be natural medicines too or in combination with scientific drugs.

Chemoprevention is administered if:

  • You are at a high risk of developing cancer especially if you already have someone in the family who has or had a type of cancer.
  • You already had cancer. In this case, going in for chemoprevention can lower the risk of cancer from coming back, as well as prevent you from developing new cancer.

Risk-reducing surgery: This involves preventing cancer by surgically removing an organ that has the potential to cause cancer in the future. For instance, breast removal surgery or mastectomy, to prevent the occurrence of breast cancer.

Tertiary Prevention: This happens after the development of cancer by lessening the complications and preventing its reoccurrence.

As the name suggests this is a type of cancer treatment that encourages your body’s natural defenses – or immunity - to fight cancer. It either uses the natural substances in your body or manufactured medicines to improve the way your immune system works, to search for cancer cells already in your body, and destroy them completely.

Immunotherapy is of different types and also works differently in people. While some immunotherapy treatments spur your immune system to slow the growth of the cancer cells or even stop them from growing, other types can equip your own immunity to destroy the cancer cells or even stop them from spreading to other organs.

Your cancer specialist will decide if the Immunotherapy can be administered singularly or in combination with other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

With so many life-changing advances in cancer prevention, it is in your best interest to take the advice of your oncologist to decide the best preventive options.

About Fortis

With 28 hospitals across the nation and over 4000+ beds, Fortis Healthcare Limited is a leading integrated healthcare delivery service provider in India. For over 26 years, Fortis Hospitals have been committed to the cause of getting people back to their lives faster and stronger.

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