Cancer kills 50 people in the country every hour while 100 other people are diagnosed with it within the same time, shows the National Cancer Registry Programme data collected by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). This makes cancers the fourth biggest killer disease in India.
Annually, about 440,000 people die of various cancers in India, with 700,000 to 900,000 being diagnosed with a cancer each year. At any given moment, there are 2.5 million cancer patients in the country. Tobacco use is the single most important risk factor for cancer and causes a large variety of cancer types such as lung, larynx, oesophagus, stomach, bladder, oral cavity and others. Each year, 10 lakh people die of tobacco-related diseases, including cancers, says the ICMR.
"Over 60 per cent of those affected are in the prime of their life, between the ages of 35 and 65 years. About 50 per cent deaths from cancer are caused because of tobacco use and are completely preventable, which is why I want to discourage tobacco use through legislation," says health minister Anbumani Ramadoss.
"We're setting up a National Regulatory Authority (NRA) to monitor and regulate the effective implementation of tobacco control laws. Tobacco-testing laboratories will also be set up for content regulation," says Ramadoss.
The National Cancer Registry Programme data has shown that parts of India have the world's highest incidence of cancers of the gall bladder, mouth, and lower pharynx. Breast cancer has replaced cancer of the cervix as the leading cancer among women in urban India. Lung cancer is the most common cancer in men in Kolkata, Mumbai, and New Delhi.
Dietary factors play an important role in causing some cancers, with obesity increasing risk of cancers of the breast, uterus, stomach, colon and kidneys, among others. "Tobacco use and alcohol are proven to cause several cancers such as that of the lung, oesophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver and breast," says Ramadoss.
Some viral infections have also been proven to cause some cancers, such as Hepatitis B Virus to liver cancer and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) to cancer of the cervix.