Understanding the Burden of Breast, Oral, and Cervical Cancer in India


India finds itself grappling with a formidable health challenge, as recent reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO) reveal that breast, oral, and cervical cancers collectively constitute a staggering 32% of new cancer cases in the country. Understanding the Burden of Breast, Oral, and Cervical Cancer in India This article delves into the crucial findings, explores the reasons behind the high incidence, and underscores the pressing need for preventive measures and an enhanced healthcare infrastructure.

Cancer Statistics in India

  • According to the Global Cancer Observatory, breast cancer takes the lead among women, contributing to a substantial 26.6% of new cases.
  • Cervical cancer closely follows, accounting for 17.7% of reported new cases.
  • Overall, women experience a slightly higher number of cancer cases (7,22,138) compared to men (6,91,178).
  • In 2022 alone, India reported over 14.13 lakh new cancer cases and a heart-wrenching 9.16 lakh deaths.
Understanding the Burden of Breast, Oral, and Cervical Cancer in India
Understanding the Burden of Breast, Oral, and Cervical Cancer in India

Global Perspective

  • On a global scale, an estimated 20 million new cancer cases and 9.7 million deaths were recorded in 2022.
  • The WHO, with a somewhat grim projection, anticipates a 77% increase in new cancer cases, surpassing 35 million by 2050.

Reasons for High Incidence

  • Dr. C S Pramesh from Tata Memorial Hospital underscores the pivotal role of a healthier lifestyle. Avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol consumption, staying physically active, and maintaining a healthy weight are crucial.
  • Dr. Minnish Jain links the surge in breast cancer cases to factors such as increased smoking, alcohol use, obesity, and a decline in breastfeeding. He advocates for the elimination of ultra-processed foods and the adoption of a healthier diet.

Importance of Palliative Care

  • WHO’s survey indicates that several countries, including India, face a deficiency in funding for cancer and palliative care services under universal health coverage.
  • Dr. Anil D’Cruz emphasizes the need for a multi-pronged approach, emphasizing the strengthening of primary healthcare for early detection.
  • Late presentation and limited access to care contribute to a lower success rate in treating pediatric cancers.

Addressing Financial Challenges

  • Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi voices concerns about the financial distress faced by families due to escalating treatment costs.
  • He ardently advocates for price controls on essential cancer medicines, equipment, and procedures to ensure accessibility for all.
Understanding the Burden of Breast, Oral, and Cervical Cancer in India
Understanding the Burden of Breast, Oral, and Cervical Cancer in India

The Indian Scenario

  • In 2022, breast cancer claimed 98,337 lives (13.7%), followed by oral cancer (79,979 – 5.6%) and cervical cancer (79,906 – 11.2%).
  • Dr. D’Cruz passionately calls for governmental intervention, emphasizing price control on essential drugs and ensuring the availability of morphine for terminal pain relief.

Preventive Measures and Future Outlook

  • The primary preventive measure highlighted by healthcare experts is the adoption of a healthier lifestyle.
  • The WHO’s projection of 35 million new cancer cases by 2050 underscores the urgent need for comprehensive healthcare strategies and the development of robust infrastructure.

Q1: What are the top cancers among Indian women?

A1: The top five cancers among Indian women are breast, cervix, ovary, mouth, and colorectum.

Q2: What contributes to the spike in breast cancer cases?

A2: Increased smoking, alcohol use, obesity, and lack of breastfeeding are identified as contributing factors.

Q3: Why is palliative care essential in cancer treatment?

A3: Palliative care is crucial for improving the quality of life for cancer patients, especially in cases of late presentation and limited access to care.

Q4: What steps are recommended for cancer prevention?

A4: A healthier lifestyle, including avoiding tobacco and alcohol, maintaining physical activity, weight control, and a balanced diet, is crucial for cancer prevention.

In the face of these challenging statistics, a collective effort is imperative to alleviate the burden of cancer in India and pave the way for a healthier future.

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