One woman dies of cervical cancer every eight minutes in India. For every two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer in India, one woman dies of it. As many as 2,500 persons die every day due to tobacco-related diseases in India.
These are the findings of the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR), Noida, (UP). The NICPR is an autonomous institution of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
What’s more alarming is the fact that these days it is young people rather than the aged ones who are more affected by cancer, technically considered to be an old-age disease.
The findings show that 2 per cent of the Indian women suffering from cancer are in 20 to 30 year age group, 16 per cent are in 30 to 40 year age group, 28 per cent are in 40 to 50 year age group. This means almost 46 per cent women suffering from cancer are under 50 years of age, a worrying trend that’s likely to continue in the coming years due to lifestyle changes, doctors say.
Late marriages, multiple sex partners, late pregnancy and lack of breast feeding have contributed to high incidence of cancer among women, of which breast and cervical cancers are the most common forms. Other lifestyle changes include wrong sleeping patterns, consumption of tobacco, obesity and lack of physical exercise.
Since all these are avoidable lifestyle factors, both government and society need to take proactive steps to check the situation.
Doctors opined that one of the reasons breast and cervical cancer cases are high in India is the taboo regarding discussion about private body parts among women in many communities. Indian women tend to keep suffering in silence rather than seeking medical advice till their condition becomes unbearable or incurable.
One heartening thing amidst all this is that cervical cancer can be prevented if we have an effective mass vaccination programme as well as a good preventive programme for early diagnosis.
As per information available, less than 1 per cent women participate in recommended cancer prevention screening programmes in India as compared to 30 per cent in China and 65 per cent in the US.