Sonali Bendre’s story triggers rise in check-ups

A 40-year-old banker (name withheld) began to worry after he read about Sonali Bendre’s diagnosis of a metastatic cancer. While the actor has not revealed the type of cancer she is suffering from, she wrote that her disease was “high grade” and had metastised, meaning it had spread to other parts of her body. The banker promptly searched for common male cancers and sought a doctor’s appointment soon after.

“He read that prostate cancer was among the most common cancers in men and sought an appointment for a medical examination. He had no symptoms. The trigger was merely that he had read about Sonali Bendre,” said uro-oncological robotic surgeon Dr. Anup Ramani, who advised a prostate-specific antigen test, which could suggest if there is a problem. “Since he was in his 40s, we took a detailed history and advised a blood test which costs Rs. 700. The reports came out clear,” said Dr. Ramani, adding that another 28-year-old man who came to him for similar reasons underwent a thorough rectal examination and was advised regular medical check-ups. “Such hysteria after a celebrity reveals his or her disease is common,” said Dr. Ramani, who sees four to five people coming in for check-ups in a week. The number, he says, doubled last week.

Gynaecologist Dr. Kiran Coelho, who has a lot of celebrity patients, too witnessed a sudden surge in women coming in for gynaecological examinations. “My old patients suddenly sought an appointment. They have confessed that they got worried after reading Ms. Bendre’s story,” said Dr. Coelho, who has been pushing her patients to go in for annual check-ups. “Cancer gives enough and more warning signs. We can win against the disease only if there is early detection and that can happen with regular check-ups,” she said. According to Dr. Coelho, she received at least three patients every day seeking a check-up, mostly women in the perimenopausal age. “This kind of sudden rush is very similar to what happened a few years ago when Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer. Back then, many women rushed for breast examinations,” said Dr. Coelho.

Gynaecologist Dr. Duru Shah said the country needs to wake up to preventive healthcare. She said, “It is better to know early than be surprised when the disease is widespread. In many foreign countries, if women have not undergone regular papsmear tests, insurance companies reject claims when the cancer occurs.”

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