China, India face huge economic and human costs from cancer: Experts

Last Updated: Apr 13, 2014, 23:40 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Paris: China and India, the two most populous countries of the world are facing a cancer crisis, experts said.

In a report, published in The Lancet Oncology, more than 40 specialists warn Asia's big two emerging giants of facing huge economic and human costs from the disease.

The report said that tobacco-use, belated diagnosis and unequal access to healthcare facilities are the main reasons behind the rise of cancer in India.

In China, it said that cancer now accounts for 1 in every 5 deaths as a result of low awareness and people being still confined to blind faith in traditional medicine. 

The report showed that sixty percent of cancer cases in China are attributable to “modifiable environmental factors,” including smoking, water contamination and air pollution.

Around I million new cancer cases are diagnosed every year in India, but the figure might come up to 1.7 million by 2035.

Deaths due to cancer are currently 600,000-700,000 annually, although this figure is also forecast to rise, to around 1.2 million.

The study revealed that incidence of cancer in the Indian population is lower than Europe or the US, but the mortality rates among those diagnosed with the disease are much higher in India.

In India, less than 30% of the people with cancer survive for more than 5 years after the diagnosis while more than two-thirds of cancer deaths occur among people aged between 30 and 69.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer killer in India, accounting for more than 1 in 5 of all cancer deaths in women, while 40% of cases are attributable to tobacco use. Diagnosis is a big problem in the northern, central and eastern regions of India, the report added.

"The need for political commitment and action is at the heart of the solution to India's growing cancer burden," said Mohandas Mallath, a professor at the Tata Medical Centre in Kolkata.

He said that the extent to which death and illness from cancer will actually increase in the next 20 years will depend a lot on the investments made in future decades in tobacco control, healthcare delivery, cancer research, (and) clinical trials.

With Agency Inputs