Indian staring at cancer explosion: Experts

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Mumbai, Jan 21 (PTI) India is staring at an explosion ofcancer burden as the disease is likely to double or tripleamong its population in the next 20 years, oncologists said.

The incidence of cancer for the last decade has been astraight line as there has been a rising trend in some cancersoffset by a reduction in others. However, epidemiologicalfindings of some unique cancers in North-east suggested theexplosion of cancer burden in the next two decades, thescientists said.

"It must be noted that in spite of the rising trend, thenumber of cancer cases are still about a third or fifth ofwhat is seen in the developed world. However, India is at thebeginning of an explosion of cancer burden due to severalfactors and drastic steps need to be taken to prevent theexplosion," Tata Memorial Centre(TMC), Director, Dr R A Badwesaid.

"In general, the outlook for cancer appears bright due tolow incidence in India and efforts to reduce mortality withoutmuch increase in the incidence are unique globally," Badwesaid at the 21st Indian Nuclear Society''s annual conferencehere.

But in future with factors like increasing population,increasing longevity, less of physical activity (obese cancer)and urbanisation of rural India, the burden of cancer islikely to double or triple by 2030, said Dr K M Mohandas,Director, Centre for Cancer Epidemiology of TMC.

TMC has also found some unique cancers in some parts ofIndia - nasopharyngeal and esophageal (food pipe) cancer inNortheast and gall bladder cancer in Gangetic and Brahmaputrariver belt, he said.

"Few large epidemiological studies are underway to findout etiology of these cancers and a large screening study withBarium swallow is also underway to see if early detection ofesophageal cancer is possible," Badwe said. .

Figures related to tobacco-related cancer (smoking and non-smoking), which constitutes 50 per cent of the cancercases in the county, may remain as it is, Badwe said.

"Over, 65 per cent of cancer in India is contributed bytobacco related, breast and cervical cancer. Thirty per centof cancers arise in head and neck region is caused due tonon-smoking tobacco used in India and this is amenable toprevention as well as early detection," he said.

An alarming rise in breast cancer and ovarian cancer isvery fortunately matched by a corresponding and welcomereduction in uterine cervical cancer, maintaining the overallincidence of cancer relatively unchanged in women, the TMCdirector said.

Uterine cervical cancer is due to infection which isamenable to prevention and early detection, he said.

In men, it is lung cancer which is on the rise and is amajor killer, whereas two other forms of the disease --stomach and penile cancers -- have shown a downward trend, headded.

The data on screening for oral cancer is not robustenough to implement screening as service but it is suggestiveof being beneficial in saving lives, the cancer expert added.

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