Almost half the global total of cancer cases and 55% of cancer-related deaths occurs in developing countries.
This was informed by Dr Shabab Angurana, consultant cancer and palliative care specialist at Government Medical College, Jammu.
Informing about the World Cancer Declaration, adopted by the United Nations in 2011, which aspires to "dispel damaging misconceptions" about the disease, Angurana said in this year's endeavours the four key myths were being highlighted to check spreading of cancer. The first two myths are: cancer is just a health issue and that the disease only affects the wealthy, elderly and developed countries.
"Further, the burden of disease in India is in transition from being predominantly infection-related to being largely non-communicable in nature. As a result, cancer cases are projected to increase by 78% in India by 2030. These changes affect not only individuals, but also threaten the families emotionally and financially along with hampering economic development of our state and country," said Dr Angurana.
He said the third and fourth myths were the notions that being diagnosed with cancer equates to death sentence and that cancer is an individual's fate and not preventable. Improvements in early detection and treatment mean that many patients diagnosed with the disease can be treated effectively and survive-indeed, there are nearly 30 million cancer survivors worldwide. Better understanding of risk factors and increased prevention efforts offer cost-effective and sustainable means to reduce the cancer burden in the longer term.
"Given that many of the myths may discourage individuals from presenting to primary care in the first place, efforts must also be focused elsewhere. Campaigns must be aimed at public-as exemplified by actions like gutka ban, featuring graphic images of tumours on cigarette packs, ban on smoking in public places, advertorial campaigns against cancer and other non communicable disease, lectures, detection camps etc.," said Dr. Angurana.
Ironically, a latest report from World Health Organisations says that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. 7.6 million people died from cancer worldwide in 2008 and every year almost 13 million cancer cases are newly diagnosed.
Already more than two-thirds of these new cancer cases and deaths occur in developing countries where cancer incidence continues to increase at alarming rates. Research suggests that currently a third of all cancer deaths are due to modifiable risks including tobacco use, obesity, harmful use of alcohol and infections. If detected early many types of cancer such as breast cancer, cervical cancer and colorectal cancer can be successfully cured.