Around two fifths (40 per cent) of all cancers in India are attributable to tobacco use, and the economic costs of illness and premature death due to tobacco consumption exceed combined government and state expenditure on medical and public health, water supply, and sanitation, a new report on cancer care in India published in The Lancet Oncology revealed.
The report points out that India is facing a cancer crisis, with smoking, belated diagnosis and unequal access to treatment causing large-scale problems. Every year in India,around one million new cancer cases are diagnosed and around 600,000 to 700,000 people die from cancer in India, with this death toll projected to rise to around 1.2 million deaths per year by 2035.
The report compiled by Professor Richard Sullivan and Professor Arnie Purushotham from King's Health Partners Cancer Centre at King's College London with the help of senior Indian colleagues including Professor CS Pramesh and Professor Rajan Badwe at the Tata Memorial Cancer Centre, Mumbai.
Although India has a relatively lower incidence of cancer (around a quarter of that in the USA or Western Europe), the rate of deaths from cancer, adjusted for age, is similar to that seen in high-income countries, the report said.
Less than a third of patients with cancer in India currently survive for more than five years after diagnosis.
Around 95 per cent of the medical colleges in India do not have comprehensive cancer care services, comprising Surgical, Medical and Radiation Oncology departments, in the same campus.
Currently there are around 2,000 medical and radiation oncologists in India one per 5000 newly diagnosed cancer patients and in almost all remote or rural areas even the most basic cancer treatment facilities are non-existent, it said.
As a result, urban cancer centres are overcrowded and under-resourced, leading to long waiting times, delayed diagnoses, and treatment that comes too late for many patients.
"Cancer research needs to be central to plans for national cancer control, and cancer needs to be one of the focuses of national research agendas and priorities," said Professor Richard Sullivan, King's College London, series coordinator and lead author of the series paper on cancer research in India.
Abstracted from Manoramaonline