NEW DELHI: Nearly 14 lakh new cancer cases will be diagnosed in India this year, a report by two disease research institutions under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has projected.
Given that about 11.57 lakh fresh cancer cases were detected in 2018 (the latest year for which the actual number of incidences is available), the projected number of 13,92,179 cases this year marks a rise of over 16 per cent in the growth of the disease within two years.
The report also said that less than 33 per cent of the common cancers are detected at an early stage in the country.
The report, prepared by researchers with the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research on the basis of actual cancer mapping and trends between 2012-16, has also said that the highest number of cancer patients will develop the disease in breast, lung, mouth, cervix uteri, and tongue.
It, however, does not take into account the ongoing pandemic situation — which many experts feel will worsen the detection of diseases such as cancer - as the data analytics had been carried out before the pandemic struck.
The projected incidence of patients with cancer is higher for females (712,758) than males (6,79,421) and the cancer incidence burden is expected to be 98.7 per 100,000 population as a conservative estimate.
The report said that one in 68 males (lung cancer), 1 in 29 females (breast cancer), and 1 in 9 Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime between 0-74 years of age.
It also said that Aizawl in Mizoram at 269.4 cases per lakh and Papumpare in Arunachal Pradesh with 219.8 cases per lakh will continue to have the highest age-adjusted incidence of cancer in India.
The study observed that the highest cancer incidence in the Northeast region than other areas in the country and the leading sites of cancer in the region were nasopharynx, hypopharynx, oesophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, larynx, lung, breast, and cervix uteri.
The high case burden in the region has been attributed to excessive consumption of tobacco.
Nationally, lung, mouth, oesophagus, stomach and nasopharynx cancers were the most common cancers in men.
Lung cancer was the leading site in metropolitan cities and the southern region, whereas mouth cancer was the leading site in the west and central regions. In the Northeast, cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, and nasopharynx were the most prevalent.
Among women, cancer of the breast and cervix uteri were the commonest.
Importantly, the report noted that the majority of the patients with cancer were diagnosed at the locally-advanced stage for breast (57 %), cervix uteri (60 %), head and neck (66.6%), and stomach (50.8%) cancer, whereas in lung cancer, distant metastasis was predominant among males (44%) and females (47.6%)
The report also came up with a novel observation - the incidence rate of thyroid cancer among women is increasing, and it is most common in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam in Kerala.
“The high burden of thyroid cancer in Kerala could be due to overdiagnosis as was observed even in high-income and low- and middle-income countries,” it said.
Experts pointed out that with changing socio-demographic and lifestyle factors in an already highly heterogeneous Indian population, this type of analysis periodically is very essential for cancer prevention and control.
“Big strengths of this study are information on cancer stage at diagnosis and treatment status at population level which is limited,” said Krithiga Shridhar, a cancer researcher with the Population Foundation of India.
Dr Dinesh Pendharkar, president of the Indian Society of Oncology said that the rising incidence of breast and ovarian cancer in women and prostate cancer in men needed to be under the spotlight for prevention and early detection.