India sees rise in cancer rates with at least million new cases being reported every year, which experts blame is due to rapid lifestyle changes.
While cancer of the breast and cervix are most common among
women, men suffer from neck, throat and prostate cancer.
"We have one million new cancer cases coming up every
year in India.
In the last decade, lifestyle related causes have increased our susceptibility
to the disease -- it's now time to drop the attitude - 'how me'," P.K.
Julka, professor of clinical oncology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences
(AIIMS) here, told IANS.
"Tobacco consumption is increasing; so there is a rise
in lung, neck and throat cancer. Among women, late marriage, early menarche and
late menopause are some of the causes of breast cancer. Women are exposed to
the female hormone at an early age and that increases the risk of breast
cancer," Julka explained.
According to Julka, breast cancer has overtaken cervical
cancer to become the leading type of cancer in Delhi,
Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Kolkata.
the number of new breast cancer cases is about 115,000 per year and this is
expected to rise to 250,000 new cases per year by 2015.
"If we closely look at the lifestyle of patients coming
to us these days, we get to see that there is hardly any physical exercise, the
pollution levels are high, food habits are not healthy, sexual habits have
changed, and people have lost connect with what we used to call healthy
living," Kishore Singh, director and professor, head of department of radiotherapy
at the Loknayak Hospital, told IANS.
While the ministry of health has a National Cancer Control
Programme (NCCP) and a National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP) that maps the
prevalence of the disease, experts feel the fight against cancer is still too
far from reaching the goals of awareness and prevention.
"There is serious research missing in cancer tracking
that will help us get more accurate figures. Unlike HIV-AIDS, we do not have a
strong national policy for cancer that focusses on prevention, disease
management and rehabilitation," said R. Ranga Rao, director, medical
oncology, BLK Cancer Centre.
Under the NCCP, there are currently 28 regional cancer
centres country-wide that are tertiary cancer care centres, providing all
facilities of diagnosis and treatment.
Experts believe that once the disease is notified by the
government, the picture of cancer prevalence could be clearer and help in
drafting a proper policy at a time when cancer is already in the ministry
limelight as a non-communicable disease.
"If the cancer case is compulsorily reported, we will
know the true burden of the disease, how many people are affected and the type
of cancer plaguing the population," Julka says, adding that the
"decision may come soon".
Experts say the country should not fall weak on awareness
and prevention methods for cancer of any type.
"When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, he or
she goes into shock. If we have a little knowledge about screening methods,
awareness about causes and report to the doctor even on observing the slightest
of change in physicality, then we can at least diagnose the disease
early," Singh said.