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Cancer in India

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Cancer can be termed as an invisible killer that slowly becoming visible. Rising cases of cancer are crippling the health of our society as it has become one of the major causes of death in India. That is a reason why lakhs of Indians are devastated when they hear the news about cancer. On an average, more than 1,800 Indians are succumbing to cancer every day. With new cancer cases it is estimated to grow by 25 % by 2025, cancer is slowly becoming a big killer.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in a body. Anything adverse reactions which may cause a normal body cell to develop abnormally can develop into a cancer. Some of the general categories of cancer-related or causative agents are as follows, chemical compound, toxic exposures, radiation, pathogens, and in rare cases human genetics. Cancer symptoms and signs depend on the specific type and grade. Some of the general signs and symptoms are not very specific, it may include sudden weight loss, vertigo, fatigue, changes skin changes, high fever, change in bowel or bladder function, unusual bleeding, severe pain in throat, persistent cough, development of lump or tissue masses in certain parts of the body. Researchers have found out that there are more than 100 types of cancers; almost any part of the body can be affected.

Why cancer is a dreaded disease in India?

Number of people affected by cancer are sharply increasing in India. The top most frequent cancers based on the ranking defined by the total number of cases in India in men and women are breast, cervical, oral cavity, lung and colorectal. Never before, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in India and accounts for about a quarter of all cancers in women throughout the country. It is very sad to know that more women in India die from cervical cancer than in any other country in the world. The average age for breast cancer in India is almost a decade lower than that in the West. Cancers of major public health relevance such as breast, cervical, oral and colorectal cancer can be cured if detected early and treated adequately. Cancers of the oral cavity as well as lung cancers due to chewing or smoking tobacco can be prevented. Besides, cancer is the second most common cause of death in India after heart disease. Use of tobacco products through cigarettes are the single most preventable cause of death worldwide.

Cancer Statistics in India

  • One woman dies of cervical cancer every 8 minutes in the country. For every 2 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, one woman dies.
  • Around 3,000 persons die every day due to tobacco-related diseases in India.
  • 1 in 5 deaths among men and 1 in 20 deaths among women is related to smoking, accounts for an estimated 9,30,000 deaths in 2010.
  • Around 25 lakh people are suffering cancer.
  • Cancer claims 7 lakh lives every year across India.
  • While cancers of oral cavity and lungs in males along with cervix and breast in females. account for over 50% of all cancer deaths in India.
  • The top five cancers in men and women account for 47.2% of all cancers.

Government initiatives

National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) are being implemented. This programme was initiated under the National Health Mission (NHM). The primary components include awareness generation for cancer prevention, screening, early detection and referral to an appropriate institution for treatment.

'Tertiary Care for Cancer’ scheme was launched with primary purpose to set up individual units in every state. As per the plan state cancer institutes (SCI) and tertiary care cancer centres (TCCC) in different parts of the country are to be set up. The maximum assistance inclusive of state share for each unit is around Rs 120 crore, for TCCC, it will be around Rs 45 crore.

National Tobacco Control Programme is launched to create awareness about the dangerous effects of tobacco consumption, reduce the demand and supply of tobacco products. It also ensures effective implementation of the provisions under ‘The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003’ (COTPA) to help people quit tobacco through tobacco cessation centres.

Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN) was launched to meet the financial demands for cancer treatment,. Besides this, the Health Minister’s Cancer Patient Fund (HMCPF) within the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi was developed wherein 30 erstwhile regional cancer centres (RCCs) were provided with revolving funds to provide immediate financial assistance up to Rs 2 lakh ( for only BPL cancer patients). Under the National Health Mission, assistance for palliative care is also provided for by the government. The state bodies can incorporate their proposals related to initiation/enhancement of palliative care services within their respective state project implementation plans in coordination with the Mission.

What is the latest researches on Cancer?

Scientists have developed inbody GPS to track tumour. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed an in-body GPS system, called ReMix, which can identify the location of ingestible implants inside the body via low-power wireless signals. Scientists team expects that such implants can be used to track tumours by monitoring even slight movements. In the future, the implants may also help in dispensing drugs to a specific area in the body.


Cancer is steady becoming an epidemic. Here are some things people can do to aid prevention and early diagnosis of this disease. One should realize that thinking can do more good than harm. So patients should pay attention to symptoms and get check-ups regularly. If patients are reluctant to get checked, friends and relative should take the responsibility upon themselves and ensure that they do what is necessary, despite their reluctance. Women (over 40 years old), should go for regular screening for early detection of breast cancer. Consuming any kind of tobacco puts on a collision course along with cancer. So advice persons who addicted to tobacco to avoid at any cost. In order to avoid, exposure to known or suspected carcinogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals, tap water must be filtration before consuming. Vaccines also help lower the cancer risk in human. It is found that Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine has helped prevent most cervical cancers and several other kinds of cancer. Many researches have claimed that even Hepatitis B vaccine can help lower liver cancer risk. For cancer related to bladder, one must drink plenty of water and other liquids. This helps to dilute the concentration of cancer-causing agents in urine and helping to flush them out of the body. Finally, changes in diets can make big difference in cancer prevention. Eat organic and loading up with good dose antioxidants can help in prevention of cancer.