- In a recent paper in Jama Oncology, Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) researchers analysed new cancer cases in 195 countries in 2016. At 106.6 new cancer cases per 100,000 people, India ranked 10th among countries with the lowest cancer incidence.
About the report:
- While India’s ranking by the Global Burden of Disease team in IHME may appear counter-intuitive, the truth is that incidence alone does not tell India’s full cancer story. There are other details to look at; for example, India’s cancer incidence may be far lower than in Australia, New Zealand and the United States, but its mortality rate is at par.
Screening in the country, too, is poor:
- The pilot phase of the National Programme For Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke (NPCDCS) was launched in 2008 and one of the items on the agenda was cancer screening.
- In 2017, the Health Ministry was still talking about a rollout of universal cancer screening in 100 districts and training of personnel.
- India stands out also because it bucks the global trend of men having more cancers than women.
- Earlier this year, researchers from the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research wrote in a paper in The Lancet Oncology: “The proportion of cancer diagnoses in India is higher in women than in men, which is in marked contrast to the worldwide age-standardised cancer incidence of a 25% higher incidence in men than in women.
- Cumulatively, breast, cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancer account for more than 70% of cancers in women in India.”
- Matters are further complicated by the lack of access to cancer care and a lack of trained professionals equipped to deal with the disease. India has only 200-250 comprehensive cancer care centers (0.2 per million population in India vs 4.4 per million population in US), 40% of which are present in eight metropolitan cities and fewer than 15% are government operated.
- The country has only one oncologist per 1,600 new cancer patients in India, as against one per 100 and 400 new cancer patients in the US and UK respectively, the EY report noted.