It may seem hard to believe, but the incidence rate of cancer in India is among the lowest in the world. At 106.6 new cancer cases in 2016 per 100,000 people, India ranked tenth among the countries with the lowest cancer incidence in an analysis by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, Washington University.
The top three countries in terms of incidence rates were Australia (743.8), New Zealand (542.8) and the United States (532.9). Four other Southeast Asian countries featured in the bottom 10 in the analysis of cancer incidence in 195 countries. These are Bhutan (86), Nepal (90.7) and Sri Lanka (101.6).
IMHE brings out the Global Burden of Disease Study every year in September. Throughout the year the data is analysed for various trends. The present analysis of cancer has been published in JAMA Oncology. Syria tops both the list for lowest incidence and lowest mortality while Sri Lanka is the only Southeast Asian country that features in both lists.
Though the IHME analysis does not have that figure, despite the low rate of incidence, the actual figures of cancer cases remain staggering. Data from the National Cancer Registry shows that an estimated 39 lakh cancer cases were registered in India in 2016.
In 2016, the world over there were 17.2 million cancer cases worldwide and 8.9 million deaths. Cancer cases increased 28 per cent between 2006 and 2016. The study noted: “Despite the rapidly increasing cancer burden in lower SDI countries, the odds of developing cancer and age-standardized rates are still higher in countries of higher SDI. Notable exceptions are cancers with infectious etiologies like cervical, liver, and stomach cancer.”
The concept of defining countries by socio-demographic index (SDI) was piloted by IHME in the GBD studies. Countries are ranked on a scale of 0 to 1, based on incomes per capita, average educational attainment, and fertility rates of all areas in the GBD study.
The study also found that lifestyle-related cancers, such as lung, colorectal and skin cancers, have increased globally over the past decade. “While the increase in lung, colorectal, and skin cancers over the past decade is concerning, the prevention potential is substantial.
Vital prevention efforts such as tobacco control, dietary interventions, and broader health promotion campaigns need to be scaled up in response to this rise in lifestyle-related cancers,” said Dr Christina Fitzmaurice, Assistant Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.”