NEW DELHI: Lack of a national database on cancer in India remains a huge concern and there is an urgent need to make cancer noticeable with an electronic database, experts said on Wednesday on the eve of World Cancer Day.
According Dr Sunil Kumar, Assistant Professor in Surgical Oncology at AIIMS, India doesn’t have a comprehensive national picture as far as cancer burden is concerned though the disease has been found to be on the rise as per the population registry which is region specific.
“Absence of National Registry leads to difficulties in formulating a nationwide policy on preventive as well as therapeutic measure to be taken to fight this menace,” said Dr Kumar said.
It will help ensure optimal utilisation of resources in areas with high prevalence of cancer.
“A majority of cancer treatment centres are restricted to major urban areas and a vast majority of the rural population is not catered to through these centres located only in metropolis,” said Dr Kumar.
Having a national registry will generate the true picture of various types of cancer existing in the country, said Dr Shyam Aggarwal, Chairperson of Department of Medical Oncology at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, even as he stressed that not only diagnosis but the deaths should also be recorded.
“That way, we will have data as to how many lives cancer has claimed in our country along with those getting affected.”
“Currently, most of the cancer registries are hospital- based and some hospitals do not even have registries. So, now when we talk about the cases going up, we are extra-collating from the hospital-based registry and thus the data is limited,” said Dr Aggarwal.
“Yet, even in the absence of comprehensive data, the trends indicate rising numbers. The incidence is rising faster in urban areas but the rise is also apparent in rural areas. Another worrying trend is increasing incidence in younger patients, those in their 20s and 30s,” said Dr Vineet Talwar, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute.
“As compared to the West, Indians have an earlier age of presentation and to make it worse a more advanced stage of diagnosis compromising the cure rates and needing a lot more chemotherapy and radiation as the presentations are late.”
“Urbanisation contains several accompanying attributes such as obesity, lack of exercise, more consumption of fats, lifestyle changes and intake of alcohol. These factors tend to increase risk of cancer. Pollution is another factor of urbanisation that further encourages cancer,” Dr Talwar said.