Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group/ Delhi
Disease affliction is said to be gender neutral but not when it comes to cancer in India. Women outnumber men when it comes to being afflicted with the dreaded disease while Uttar Pradesh (UP) has surfaced as the cancer capital of India.
Saddled already with a poor sex ratio, the greater incidence of cancer in women than men in India makes it a double whammy for the weaker section. However, the situation in advanced countries like USA, men are the weaker sex when it comes to cancer incidence.
According to the Population Based Cancer Registry functioning under the National Cancer Registry Programme of Indian Council of Medical Research, in the year 2011, 5, 54,234 female cases of cancer were reported as against 4, 90,008 cases of cancer for men.
Detailing the reasons behind the rise of fatal cancer among women, Dr. Ramesh Sarin, senior consultant, surgical oncology at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, said, “It’s extremely important to identify the risk factors for each cancer. The common risk factors associated with breast cancer in women are increasing age, family history and early menarche.”
In a detailed state wise analysis, Uttar Pradesh followed by Maharashtra and Bihar have recorded maximum number of incidence of cancer in 2011. Uttar Pradesh recorded 1, 71,369 incidence of cancer followed by Maharashtra at 96,890 and Bihar at 89,030 cases respectively.
Identifying the reasons behind the rise in cancer cases in high risk states, Dr. Rajeev Kumar, head of surgical oncology at International Oncology Centre, Fortis Hospital, Noida, said, “Ignorance among the general population as well as lack of proper training among the doctors are the main reasons behind the rise in cancer cases in these states.
Also, hospitals in these states lack proper infrastructure facilities which also act as a hindrance in the detection of cancer at an early stage.”
According to an article “Cancer mortality in India: a nationally representative survey” published in Lancet in March 2012, at 30—69 years, the three most common fatal cancers were oral (including lip and pharynx, (22.9 percent), stomach (12.6 percent]), and lung (including trachea and larynx (11.4 percent) in men, and cervical (17.1 percent), stomach (14.1 percent) and breast (10.2 percent) in women.
“If a woman above the age of 35 years gives birth to her first child, her risk of getting breast cancer doubles,” warned Dr. Sarin at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.
Pointing out the reasons behind the cancer cases in male, Dr. Manav Rakshak, consultant at Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi, said, “ Cigarette smoking and chewing pan , tobacco and guthka are the main reasons behind oral and lung cancer in men.”
Highlighting the preventable aspects of risk factors associated with cancer in women, Dr. Sarin at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, added, “Post menopausal women should avoid gaining weight. Alcohol consumption should be checked and women should indulge in some sort of physical activity to keep cancer at bay.”
“Women above the age of 35 years should go for regular tests and screening which can help in identifying the cancer at an early stage and can help in checking the cancerous growth,” suggested Dr. Kumar at Fortis Hospital, Noida.
The Government of India had launched a comprehensive National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases & Stroke (NPCDCS) in 2010 and the programme envisaged implementation in 100 districts across 21 States during 2010-2012 of the 11th Five Year Plan. Under Cancer component of NPCDCS, the district hospitals are strengthened for early diagnosis of cancer, chemotherapy facilities and palliative care to cancer patients. Financial assistance up to Rupees one lakh per patient is available for chemotherapy drugs to treat 100 Cancer patients per district.
Emphasizing the government policies in place, Dr. Rakshak at Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi said, “The government of India’s ‘National Tobacco Control Programme’ has helped in controlling oral cancer and lung cancer in India. It is high time that people should become aware to curb the spread of this deadly disease.”