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Cancer, the biggest public health challenge in India

By Amit Dwivedi

May 1, 2010
Author is a health and development journalist. He can be contacted at::

Cancers in all forms are causing about 12 per cent of deaths throughout the world. In the developed countries, cancer is the second leading cause of death accounting for 21% (2.5 million) of all mortality. In the developing countries, cancer ranks third as a cause of death and accounts for 9.5% (3.8 million) of all deaths.

In India, Cancer has become one of the ten leading causes of death. It is estimated that there are nearly 1.5-2 million cancer cases at any given point of time. Over 7 lakh new cases of cancer and 3 lakh deaths occur annually due to cancer. Nearly 15 lakh patients require facilities for diagnosis, treatment and follow up at a given time. Data from population-based registries under National Cancer Registry Programme indicate that the leading sites of cancer are oral cavity, lungs, esophageal, cervical and colic amongst men and cervix, and breast amongst women. Cancers namely those of oral and lungs in males, and cervix and breast in females account for over 50% of all cancer deaths in India.

WHO has estimated that 91 per cent of oral cancers in South-East Asia are directly attributable to the use of tobacco and this is the major cause of oral cavity and lung cancer in India.

There are TWO major lacunae in India, in the controlling of cancer; first - lack of knowledge, awareness about compatible healthy lifestyle, evils, societal practices and second- shortage for Cancer management that caused 70 per cent of its occurrence. Many types of cancers are preventable, life longevity can be provided with quality (if inflicted), if, we do on both major lacunae.

The Environment conservation & Stress Management plays vital role in maintaining public health status in acceptable range. Exact cause of cancer is not yet known. However, there are certain risk factors, which may cause Cancer. Out of so many factors, the chemicals are one of the responsible factors. These chemicals are being consumed in form Tobacco chewing Tobacco smoking, Pesticide, Insecticide, Synthetic manuring, Alcohol, Electromagnetic radiation, Food, Air, Water, Reproductive hormones & Emission / Industrial waste from factories. These chemical are responsible for shooting up oxidative stress level beyond the capacity of natural management mechanism of human physiological system causes Gene Mutation at DNA level –lead to cancer. These chemicals are known as carcinogens. Cancer being a painless disease in beginning, is often diagnosed at very late stage or accidentally, but this is too late for saving the life, only we can try to reduce agony of CA patient & dependent.

All too often, when the doctor utters the word "Cancer" or AIDS, what the patient hears is "you are dying". This is a 1st natural psyche reaction of an Individual irrespective of class / cast/ religion.

This a fact that everybody contributes in polluting the environment in his own way rather increasing the stress level leading to incidence of Cancer. So, this is everybody’s responsibility to repay to cancer patients & his dependents in the form, he chooses.

Posted on: May 01, 2010 09:10 AM IST


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