Of course, having an extremely accomplished mentor was only part of Ayon’s development into a respected oncologist. The other part of the equation was – and still is – his inherent love of the field itself.
“These patients require complex care,” he explained. “As a doctor, you must be able to guide these patients.” The complexity of treating cancer patients makes favorable outcomes all the more rewarding, he added.
Interestingly, the treatment of this potentially multifaceted, frequently life-threatening disease often (but not always) starts with a fairly simple, straightforward line of defense. “Prevention,” Ayon said, “is the best medicine.”
The doctor offered a general set of guidelines patients can follow to help avoid several types of cancer, as well as several, more-specific preventative measures related to colon, breast, lung, and bladder cancers.
Throughout the interview, which was also attended by members of Ayon’s staff, one piece of advice emerged again and again regardless of the type of cancer discussed: Stop smoking – or better yet, don’t start.
Moreover, while quitting smoking can aid patients in the fight to prevent several cancers, the health benefits of stopping extend much further. Smoking, the doctor explained, has a destructive impact on a patient’s overall health and wellbeing, with a pronounced effect on heart disease, diabetes, bronchitis and a range of other ailments.
Ayon also recommended regular exercise and a healthy diet as further general measures people can observe in the battle to prevent cancer.
“We have so many screening tools to find cancer, too,” he added, advising that regular patient checkups with primary care physicians (PCP) can be especially effective in helping detect colon, breast and lung cancers as early as possible; early detection – effectively stopping cancer in its tracks – is a critical aspect of prevention.
With breast cancer, Ayon continued, prevention and early detection is also largely up to the patient. Regular, monthly self-exams, he explained, play a vital part in preventing this potentially devastating disease from progressing to advanced stages. Any woman who finds bumps or lumps in the breasts or armpits during a self-examination should see her doctor as soon as possible.