Over 45,000 New Cancer Cases In North East India Every Year: Experts

Consumption of tobacco in any form is known single most important risk factor for the development of cancer. The prevalence of tobacco use in the state of Assam has significantly increased from 39.3 % in 2010 to 48.2 % in 2020, as against the national prevalence of 28%. Also, alcohol consumption is an additional risk factor for cancer.
Over 45,000 New Cancer Cases In North East India Every Year: Experts

Over 45,000 New Cancer Cases In North East India Every Year: Experts

Dr. Amal Chandra Kataki, Director Dr. Borooah Cancer Institute

As we observe the World Cancer day on 4th February 2022, it is alarming to learn that 1.9 crore new cancer cases are diagnosed globally every year, out of which, about 99 lakh patients die. In India, around 14 lakh new cancer cases are detected each year, out of which, about 9 lakh patients succumbed to it. In North East India, around 45,200 new cancer cases are diagnosed every year, and Assam alone contributes to 34,076 new cancer cases.

Consumption of tobacco in any form is known single most important risk factor for the development of cancer. The prevalence of tobacco use in the state of Assam has significantly increased from 39.3 % in 2010 to 48.2 % in 2020, as against the national prevalence of 28%. Also, alcohol consumption is an additional risk factor for cancer. In India, the prevalence is as high as 59.4 % in men and 26.3 % in women between the age group of 15-54 years. It is a matter of serious concern. People who consume both alcohol and tobacco have five times increased risk of developing cancers of the mouth, throat and oesophagus (food pipe) compared to people who use either alcohol or tobacco alone. For heavy alcohol drinkers, the risk up to 30 times higher. Though alcohol and tobacco sales contribute toward the revenue earning of the state, but indirect economic loss due to expenditures on tobacco and alcohol related diseases and loss of work resulting from such diseases far outweigh the revenues earned through sale of these items.

Environmental air pollution is another risk factor for cancer in our population. Despite the decline of the smoking population in the country, the burden due to lung cancer in both men and women combined in 2016 was third among all cancers compared to seventh in 1990. Increasing number of old vehicles with high emissions of exhaust is another important risk factor for lung cancer. Industrial effluents polluting water bodies has resulted in toxic wastes to have entered our food chain. So far in India, environmental pollution has raised concerns for water borne diseases, and non-communicable diseases like chronic obstructive lung disease and heart diseases etc, and linking the risk of cancer in vulnerable populations with environmental pollution should now be considered seriously. All these environmental risk factors have made a paradigm shift of disease burden from communicable to non-communicable diseases (NCD). At present in India, about 60 % of all deaths are due to NCDs like cancer, heart disease, stroke diabetes, chronic lung diseases, etc.

There is a serious apprehension among the informed public regarding the rising environmental pollution and consequent rising number of cancer cases. Presently in India, there is shortage of about 600 radiotherapy machines to treat cancers. Similarly, there is a shortage of oncologists to cater to the entire country’s population. Therefore, more impetus should be given to human resource generation along with the creation requisite infrastructure for meaningful cancer care model. Massive awareness for prevention and early detection of cancer, and access to palliative care is the need of the hour. The theme for the World Cancer day 2022 has aptly highlighted “Close the care gap” which recognizes the power of knowledge.

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