[Answered]What are various reasons for growing cancer burden in India? Suggest some measures to address the same.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual introduction.

Body. Reasons for growing cancer burden in India. Recent Initiatives taken by government.

Conclusion. Way forward.

 Rising cases of cancer are crippling the health of our society as it has become one of the major causes of death in India. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in India after heart disease. On an average, more than 1,800 Indians are succumbing to cancer every day. With new cancer cases it is estimated to grow by 25 % by 2025, cancer is slowly becoming a big killer. There is a need to look at the causes of cancer in India and some measures to put a stop on rising cancer incidence.

Reasons for growing cancer burden in India:

  1. Tobacco intake: Drinking, smoking and tobacco intake both in rural and urban areas is a major cause of cancer among men in India. Further, passive smoking endangers others’ health, especially of children and women. Use of tobacco in the form of smoking is quite prevalent in the Indian society.
  2. Fertilisers: Indiscriminate use of fertilizers in agriculture is one of the causes of cancer. Punjab to Rajasthan carry large number of such cancer patients. Fertilisers especially endanger and increase the risk of cancer among pregnant women.
  3. Changing lifestyle: Busy lifestyle with no time for physical exercise along with unhealthy food choices like Pizza, burgers causes obesity which smoothen the way for cancer. Consumption of large amounts of red chillies, food at very high temperatures and alcohol consumption are the main risk factors for stomach cancer in India.
  4. Pollution: Increasing pollution and harmful chemicals in the environment act as an irritant and has increased the risk of cancer, especially lung cancer.
  5. Accessibility: Unreachability of hospitals and poor diagnosis tools increases the cancer spreading to higher stages where it becomes difficult to treat. Despite the established benefits of screening, coverage in India is low for women. High out of pocket expenditure make treatment unaffordable.
  6. Poor public healthcare: Public healthcare is inadequate so people go to private hospitals for treatment . According to estimates, there are only 2,000 cancer specialists in India for 10 million patients. Besides, infrastructure to support cancer research has a long way to go.

Recent Initiatives taken by government:

  1. National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) are being implemented under the National Health Mission (NHM). The primary components include awareness generation for cancer prevention, screening, early detection and referral to an appropriate institution for treatment.
  2. ‘Tertiary Care for Cancer’ scheme was launched with primary purpose to set up individual units in every state.
  3. National Tobacco Control Programme is launched to create awareness about the dangerous effects of tobacco consumption, reduce the demand and supply of tobacco products.
  4. Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN) was launched to meet the financial demands for cancer treatment

The recent finding of a drug for breast cancer patients will be able to extend the life duration. The drug has an advantage over chemotherapy and may have less side effects compared to standard treatment.

Way forward:

  1. There is a need to Increase financial support to health care sector.
  2. Government should discourage smoking and drinking habits among youth. Banning of alcohol in Gujarat and Bihar is a step in the right direction. Warning on Cigarette packet should be monitored for its efficacy to discourage smoking.
  3. It is important to discourage overuse of fertilizers and encourage organic farming.
  4. People to be self-conscious for their food habits and should do some kind of exercise regularly. Yoga plays an important role in this. Patients should pay attention to symptoms and get check-ups regularly.
  5. Pollution control mechanisms to be followed on urgent basis.

It is important to take proactive steps to contain cancer. Government should cap the prices of cancer medicines as these are very expensive. Finally, changes in diet can make a big difference in cancer prevention. Awareness about the causes and symptoms with community participation is need of the hour.

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