‘Cancer deaths in India likely to touch 7 lakh by 2015’

Surgeons say two third of cancer cases can be prevented by making effective policies, better implementation of existing ones

Cancer is a major public health concern in India and has become one of the ten leading causes of death in the country. It is estimated that there are about 3 million new cases of cancer at any particular point of time with 1 million new cases every year.

On the eve of World Cancer Day on February 4, surgeons said that two third of cancer cases in the country can be prevented by making effective policies or better implementation of existing ones.

Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, professor and surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital, said that as many as 5 lakh deaths occur annually in the country due to cancer. As per WHO Report 2005, the estimated cancer deaths in India are projected to increase to 7 lakh by 2015. The burden of cancer is expected to further increase owing to increase in life expectancy, demographic transitions and the effects of tobacco and other risk factors, said Chaturvedi.

Forty per cent of cancer cases are due to tobacco use. The leading sites of cancer are oral cavity, lungs, oesophagus and stomach among men and cervix, breast and oral cavity among women. Cancer accounts for more deaths worldwide than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

According to World Economic Forum (WEF), cancer is among one of the three greatest risks to the global economy due to escalating cost of care, the threat to productivity from death and disability and the effects of costs on household impoverishment. The UN resolution declared four key strategies — tobacco control, controlling unsafe use of alcohol, obesity control and better nutrition— to curb rising burden of cancer.

DR Arjan K Bhatia, senior consultant radiologist, said timely precaution and medical aid can help reduce effects of cancer. Modern diagnostic equipment can even detect the smallest lesions before any major symptoms are noticed. Diagnostic facilities like Sonography, CT, MRI, PET Scan, Nuclear Scan or PAP smear test can deduct any abnormality and if picked up early, many cancers like breast and cervical cancer can be cured at an early stage. Women above 40 must take a regular PAP smear test to deduct any precancerous cells, said Bhatia.

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