While the incidence of cancer has been increasing worldwide, developing nations like India are showing steep increase over the years. In India, it is estimated that there are about 30 lakh cases of cancer at any particular point of time with 10 lakh new cases occurring every year. About 5 lakh deaths occur annually in the country due to cancer in India.
According to projections of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 2016, the total number of new cases is expected to touch 17.3 lakh by 2020. It has been estimated that the number of deaths due to cancer is likely to reach 8.8 lakh cases by 2020. Breast cancer was the most common among women, while the incidence of mouth cancer was highest among men.
“Clearly, this is a major healthcare challenge that needs to be adequately and effectively addressed,” said Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu asking policy makers to put in efforts to make cancer treatment affordable, in his address after inaugurating the new State Cancer Institute Block at Kidwai Cancer Institute, Bengaluru in Karnataka on 28 June 2018. Governor of Karnataka, Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala, Chief Minister of Karnataka, H.D. Kumaraswamy and other dignitaries were present at the venue.
Vice President also called for strengthening of preventive, curative and palliative care programmes at national and regional levels to combat the rising incidence of cancer. The Vice President asked doctors to establish a regular communication with the patients, especially in a dreaded disease like cancer. Patients and their families need comfort. They need palliative care and more importantly kind words that make the pain bearable, he said.
Empathy and patience, care and compassion are qualities that can infuse hope in the hearts of patients and calm the troubled minds of the families, he added.
It is a matter of great concern that a vast majority of the cancer patients are reporting at cancer treatment centres when the disease is manifesting itself in an advanced stage. The data regarding cancer in India show that only 12.5 per cent of patients come for treatment in the early stages of the disease. This clearly indicates the need for greater awareness and early detection.
Lack of awareness and several other socio-economic factors, could be the reason for the delay in seeking medical intervention. The genetic make-up of an individual, environment, dietary habits, hygiene and the modern day lifestyle are affecting the health of individuals. “We need to establish cancer units for early detection, diagnosis, treatment and to provide palliative care in rural areas where about 70 per cent of our population resides. We need to have more medical and para-medical professionals in this field of medicine”, Vice President said.
The Vice President also stressed on the need to create greater awareness on the dangers of pollution, obesity, harmful use of tobacco, betel nuts and alcohol, leading sedentary lifestyle, eating junk and other foods linked to cancer. It is also equally important to take up periodic screening of people, especially those at risk of developing cancer and hence there is a need for making increased investments in the area of cancer prevention research.
“From the data available from National Cancer Registry Programme of ICMR, it has been estimated that on an average one among every 15 men and one among every 12 women in the urban centres could develop cancer in their lifetime. While cancer hospitals and treatment facilities are available in many urban areas, we need to establish cancer units for early detection, diagnosis, treatment and to provide palliative care in rural areas where about 70 per cent of our population resides. We need to have more medical and para-medical professionals in this field of medicine, said Vice President.
“Apart from initiating measures to establish oncology wings in various medical colleges, I am happy that the Central Government has upgraded several Regional Cancer Centres into State Cancer Institutes by providing adequate funds to build infrastructure, procure state of art equipments for diagnosis and treatment of cancer. One of the beneficiaries of this national initiative is the State of Karnataka which has successfully upgraded the cancer care facilities at Kidwai Cancer Institute. It is a matter of great satisfaction that this Institute, which has been in existence for the past four decades, has emerged as one of the premiere Regional Cancer Centres for Treatment and Research in the country. I am happy that it is catering not only to people of Karnataka but also to patients from other parts of India, including those from north eastern states,” he added.