Breast cancer has replaced cervical cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in India, while deaths due to lung cancer topped the list for men, according to a new study.
‘The Global Burden of Cancer 2013’, published Thursday in the journal JAMA Oncology, found that liver cancer in India increased by a phenomenal 88 per cent in the last 23 years, while oesophageal cancer increased by 64 per cent.
In 1990, 34,962 women died due to cervical cancer in India. In 2013, 40,985 women died due to cervical cancer while 47,587 died due to breast cancer. Cervical cancer cases, in fact, recorded the lowest increase during this period at 0.2 per cent. This is being attributed to late marriages, drop in fertility rate and better hygiene. On the other hand, breast cancer cases jumped by 166 per cent.
While 30,188 men died due to stomach cancer in India in 1990, lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths among men (45,333) in 2013. In fact, stomach cancer among men recorded the lowest increase during this period at 33 per cent, while prostate cancer increased by 220 per cent.
The spurt in breast cancer in India mirrors the global situation, as does the high growth rate of prostate cancer.
The study found that India stood out in its incidence of cervical and oral cancer cases. While the former has been controlled in developed countries through vaccination and mandatory check-ups, India’s addiction to chewing tobacco is the reason for the high incidence of mouth cancer. The number of new mouth cancer cases in India more than doubled from 1990 to 2013 and was among the highest in the world, up from 55,500 to 1,27,000.
The study, published on Thursday, was conducted by an international consortium of researchers, coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
In 2013, there were 14.9 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths across the world. “Cancer is the second largest cause of death globally after cardiovascular disease. Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer in India followed by mouth cancer and cervical cancer. Prevention where possible and early detection are crucial as treatment of late stage cancer is often difficult in less developed settings,” said Dr Lalit Dandona, professor at PHFI and IHME and co-author of the study.
“We accessed data from cancer registries in India — and estimates based on a coordinated analysis. We will be conducting analysis of the cases in urban vis-a-vis rural India,” said Dr Dandona.
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