The Cancer Country Profile 2020 of WHO estimates that cost per person per year in India due to cancer would rise from $1.5 in 2020 to $4 in 2030.In ten years, the cost would more than double because of the parallel increase in treatment and medical care expenses.
Despite advancements in medical technology and health infrastructure, the cancer graph continues to climb globally. This calls for a revamp in the existing strategies and also to relook at the measures to control the disease. Cancer arises from the transformation of normal cells into tumour cells in a multistage process that generally progresses from a precancerous lesion to a malignant tumour.
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The World Cancer Day observed on February 4 is a global initiative to tackle the disease and create awareness about it, so that people go for early detection. The World Cancer Day 2022-2024 theme is – Close the Care Gap. The focus in 2022 was -Realising the problem. This year the theme is -Uniting our voices and taking action.
However, the theme is not ingrained deeply among the people and there is still a lot that needs to be done to narrow the inequities that exists in the treatment of the disease.
An inclusive and balanced global response is needed to fight cancer. Reducing socioeconomic inequalities in cancer should be a priority for the public health agenda. Unless this is done, the inequities will worsen and widen the economic and societal disparities.
The cancer burden continues to grow globally, exerting tremendous physical, emotional and financial strain on individuals, families, communities and health systems. The predicted global burden will double to about 29–37 million new cancer cases by 2040, with the greatest increases in low-middle-income countries.
Also read: Which cancer causes the most deaths?
According to the World Health Organisation, the cancer burden continues to grow globally, exerting tremendous physical, emotional and financial strain on individuals, families, communities and health systems.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, and 10 million deaths in 2020 were attributed to cancer. Low-and-middle-income countries shoulder most of the cancer burden. In 2020, out of nearly 10 million cancer-related deaths worldwide, 70 percent were in low-and-middle-income countries.
Based on projected population aging and growth, the global burden of cancer is set to increase by more than 60 percent by 2040. The disease burden is expected to increase from 18.1 million new cases in 2018 to a predicted 29.4 million cases in the year 2040.
The global cancer burden is dominated by Europe, China, and Northern America. Early diagnosis of cancer is extremely crucial for reducing the global burden of the disease. Efforts should be made for early screening to identify the symptomatic individuals. Many cancers have a high chance of cure if they are diagnosed early and treated appropriately. Between 30 to 50 percent of the cancers be prevented by avoiding risk factors and implementing the existing evidence based prevention strategies.
The quality of cancer treatment services should be aptly monitored. Treatment facilities can be improved by regulation, clinician guidelines and better training of the health care workers. The treatment should be linked with supportive services like nutrition and rehabilitation.
India Cancer Graph
The graph of cancer in India continues to rise and there is therefore a need to relook and redesign the strategies for prevention and control of the disease. The major challenges that India faces in tackling the disease are shortage of skilled manpower, early detection facilities especially in the rural areas, insufficient data on the cases and mortalities in cancer.
There is an urgent need to broaden the interventions to reduce the burden of cancer and address the inequalities that affect prevention of cancer. The government and the various stakeholders should be proactive to access the efficacy of the measures taken and their effectiveness.
The Cancer Country Profile 2020 of WHO estimates that cost per person per year in India due to cancer would rise from $1.5 in 2020 to $4 in 2030.
In ten years, the cost would more than double because of the parallel increase in treatment and medical care expenses. However, there is also a positive aspect--there will be a five-fold spiral in the number of lives saved from cancer in India from 2020 to 2030, predicts the WHO country profile.
Research and innovation in cancer should be prioritised. There are many laboratories in India that are carrying out cancer research but there is no systematic data on this. From mapping new therapeutic drugs to identifying the potential candidate for cancer drugs and improving ways for early detection, researchers have been working on new ways to treat the disease. However, a lot more needs to be done.
The government should enhance funding for cancer research and make this sustainable. India should also boost its infrastructure and tighten the regulatory policies for promoting cancer research. There is a need to create a pool of trained manpower both in basic and clinical cancer research and multi-disciplinary collaboration between the researchers and clinicians.
The Central and State governments, private and government hospitals need to evolve a common platform to reduce the cancer burden. Increased efforts should be made to scale up high quality cancer programmes at various levels and reverse the disruptions caused to cancer programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
—The author, Dr Vanita Srivastava, is an independent science and health writer. The views expressed are personal.
Read her previous articles here
(Edited by : C H Unnikrishnan)
First Published: Feb 4, 2023 5:18 AM IST
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