A special presentation at a breast cancer conference in Pune revealed that breast, ovary, and lung cancer numbers in India are on the rise and cervix, stomach and penile cancer numbers are reducing. The statistical analysis also stated that though the percentage of cancer in India is not rising, the numbers are increasing rapidly with increasing longevity.
With an increase in the number of cancer patients in India, experts at the presentation warned that the country should be better prepared to fight the disease.
“As our population becomes older we will have a large number of people affected with cancer. Also, because of a huge population, the burden of cancer affected people will increase. We have a huge percentage of population among Indian women which is around 71 per cent in the age group of 30 to 60. This means, if a woman in suffering from breast cancer in this age group, the entire family is affected,” said Dr Vinay Deshmane, Consultant in Surgical Oncology and Breast Diseases, Mumbai.
He was representing Dr R A Badwe, a senior Oncologist and Director of the Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai at Milan breast cancer conference in Pune. The presentation was made by analysing the data of the Indian Cancer Society’s National Cancer Registry, Mumbai Cancer Registry and some of the registries maintained at semi-urban and rural areas of Maharashtra.
The presentation mentioned that the majority of cancer cases are getting diagnosed at advanced stage in India, which then is affecting the long term survival of the patient in a negative manner. It also stated that 40 per cent of cancers in India are tobacco related, 10 per cent are obesity related and another 10 per cent are related to different infections.
“This states that around 60 per cent of the cancers are preventable, if we are able to reduce our tobacco consumption, obesity and infections,” added Dr Deshmane.
The presentation mentioned around 1.5 per cent decline in cervical cancer cases in Mumbai. “The cases of cervical cancer have declined because of better hygiene and awareness on Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Rural Barshi Registry has more number of cervical cancer patients than the urban Barshi registry. If better hygiene is ensured in rural areas the cases would come down drastically,” he said.
While giving recommendations on how India should be better prepared to fight the disease, Deshmane said, “We will have to build a strong palliative care unit for elderly people affected with cancer. Also, the country should increase its health budget. The government should make cancer a notifiable disease.”
The conference was organised by Jehangir Breast Care Centre. Dr Shona Nag, one of the persons chairing the conference, said, “We need to do our own cancer research in India and we cannot blindly follow the research done in the West. We are encountering cancer at younger stage but it is diagnosed at advanced stage, the cancer behaves differently here and we need to understand it by doing our own research. In these kinds of conferences, research ideas are exchanged and therefore such conferences should be encouraged.”