The key recommendations include reducing tobacco consumption and production, reserving a part of taxes from tobacco industry for cancer research and strict enforcement of a law to bring down easy availability of tobacco products.
"As the prevalence of most cancers is in the higher age group, cancer disease burden is estimated to increase by 30 percent by 2020. This can pose a huge problem for the authorities as population of senior citizens are estimated to increase up to 25 percent by 2050," said Lalit Kumar, Head of Medical Oncology, Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, AIIMS.
Tobacco smoking alone causes 40 percent of all cancers like those of the lung, oesophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix. Second-hand smoke has been proven to cause lung cancer in non-smoking adults. Chewing tobacco also known as smokeless tobacco causes oral, oesophageal and pancreatic cancer.
"The new set of recommendations based on scientific research on lifestyle-related cancers will help the ministry in framing effective policies on mass sensitisation and cancer control," added Kumar.
Experts also discussed the urgent need for making cancer a notifiable disease. As of now, the National Cancer Registry Programme is able to collect cancer patient data from only 10 percent of the population. Due to lack of adequate resources, a centralised updated database of cancer patients is the need of the hour. A prime focus of the discussion was all states should have at least a cancer registry.
"Cessation of tobacco use, fruit- and vegetable-rich diet, moderate use of alcohol, caloric restriction, regular physical exercise, minimal meat consumption, use of whole grains, vaccinations and regular check-ups are important ways to prevent cancer. Although the hereditary factors cannot be modified, the lifestyle and environmental factors are potentially modifiable," said G.K. Rath, chief of B.R. Ambedkar Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, AIIMS.