About 70% of cancers in India can be prevented by making changes in lifestyle, according to doctors at Tata Memorial Centre, the apex facility for treating the disease in India.
Improving sanitation and personal hygiene alone can prevent or reduce chances of various cancers in men and women.
Dr R Badwe, director, TMC said that, compared to the western world, the incidence of cancer in India is low. “One-fourth of all these cancers could be prevented by improving personal hygiene. It is evident that Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi have witnessed drop in cervical cancer incidence because of better hygiene,” said Dr Badwe.
The annual incidences of cervical cancer in Mumbai has dropped from 19 per 1, 00, 000 people in 1988 to 10.2 in 2009. “The incidences of penile cancer is low in communities that practice of circumcision which leads to better hygiene. Many cancers are a result of infections which can be prevented by following basic hygiene,” added Badwe.
Doctors at the hospital opined that to reduce cases of cancer, banning of tobacco is necessary.
In fact, the state may pass a ant-spitting bill in the budget session scheduled in March to discourage the use of chewing tobacco. People who chew tobacco tend to spit in public places.
“We have asked the law and judiciary department to have community service as a punishment for people who spit in public. A person driving an expensive car may not mind paying a fine but if we ask him to clean a table it might act as a deterrent,” said Dr Deepak Sawant, state health minister. About 40% of cancers are related to tobacco. As a tobacco ban is difficult, given the strong industry lobby, the government is trying to discourage the use of tobacco by mooting the anti-spitting bill.
The rising incidences of obesity in India is also a worrying trend as it’s known to increase the risk of developing cancers. To make cancer treatment more accessible Cama and Albless Hospital, GT hospital will be upgraded to treat cancer patients. The government has also planned to have a 350 bedded hospital in Nagpur dedicated for treating cancer patients.