According to official data, the number of registered cancer patients has shown an ‘alarming’ increase during the past few years.
According to data, the SMHS Hospital recorded 188 cancer-related patient deaths and 6379 cancer cases between 2017 and October 2023.
In 2017, 491 patients were registered, with seven reported deaths.
The numbers increase significantly in the following years, with 1032 cancer cases and 27 fatalities in 2018, 801 cases and 34 deaths in 2019, 649 cases and six deaths in 2020, 1010 cases and 20 deaths in 2021, and 1159 cases and 39 fatalities in 2022.
As per the World Health Organization, cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms. One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs; the latter process is referred to as metastasis. Metastases are the primary cause of death from cancer.
While cancer is a multifactorial disease, the risk factors, inter alia, include ageing population, sedentary lifestyle, use of tobacco products, unhealthy diet and air pollution.
Cancers of the lung, mouth, stomach and oesophagus were the most common cancers among men. Cancers of the breast and cervix uteri were the most common cancers among women, the report said.
In 2020, tobacco related cancers are estimated to contribute 3.7 lakhs (27.1%) of the total cancer burden.
As per the officials, cancer is diagnosed and treated at various levels in the health care facilities. The treatment in Government Hospitals is either free or “highly subsidized” for the poor and needy, the Ministry of Health informed the parliament recently.
It said a population-based initiative for prevention, control and screening for common NCDs i.e. diabetes, hypertension and common cancers has been rolled out in the country under NHM and also as a part of Comprehensive Primary Health Care. Under the initiative, persons more than 30 years of age are targeted for their screening for the three common cancers i.e oral, breast and cervical. Screening of these common cancers is an integral part of service delivery under Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres. It is time perhaps to focus on preventive measures.