Yuvraj Singh, Lance Armstrong, Lisa Ray, Hugh Jackman, Angelina Jolie do not just share the status of being global celebrities but are also cancer survivors that have defeated the disease and are working towards helping others fight it. February 4th has been marked as the World Cancer Day and here are just few snippets from our side to make you more aware about the disease and its burden.
Going by its proportions, cancer is no longer merely a disease but has reached epidemic standards. Globally around 1 in 6 deaths were found to be caused due to cancer making cancer the second leading cause of death at global level. In 2018 it was responsible for an estimated 9.6 deaths globally, wherein like many other causes, a high proportion of almost 70% occurred in low and middle income countries. Furthermore, data from WHO shows that only 1 out of 5 of such countries have the requisite data to forge the policy associated in this context.
India accounted for around 784 thousand deaths in the year 2018 and more than 1 million new cases were detected, with almost equal proportions being detected in males and females. While there are more than 200 types and sub-types of cancers, in Indian context the cancer with most new incidences and deaths in 2018 was breast cancer, followed by lip, oral cavity, cervix uteri, lung with stomach cancer rounding up the figures for top five. Looking at the geographic representation, the data from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, for the year 2016 shows the highest estimated incidence among states in Uttar Pradesh, followed by Maharashtra and Bihar, whereas the lowest were recorded from Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
Research shows that certain risk factors could increase chances of developing cancer identified globally include tobacco use, use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. Thus it remains that on personal level the prevention strategies should incline towards lifestyle choices that include avoidance of these factors. Major changes in your body should not go unchecked. More importantly, the mental burden and aspect of the disease should be effectively tackled, cancer having been dealt as a taboo and scary disease has had a lack of conversations that would only help towards awareness and early detection. On larger part of the system, the reduction in the disease burden could also be achieved through awareness for early detection and effective management of those affected.
Assistant Manager – MLE at DevInsights, Delhi