Simple measures including vaccines and regular health check-ups can prevent infection-related cancers, which are among the most commonly occurring cancers in the country, say medical professionals.
Infection-related cancers were responsible for 37% of cancer deaths among women and 19 % of cancer deaths among men in 2010, according to a ten-year study on cancer mortality in India published in The Lancet.
The study, published on Wednesday, was conducted by Centre for Global Health Research and Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) among others.
In rural areas of the country, 55,200 people died of infection-related cancers, in the urban areas the figure stood at 17,200. Infection-related cancers are of the stomach, cervix and liver.
“Hepatitis B and C results in inflammation of the liver, which in turn causes injury. This injury can result in cell mutation and liver cancer,” said Dr Tejinder Singh, consultant oncologist at Fortis Hospital, Mulund. “This can be prevented by taking the Hepatitis B vaccine every five years,”. In 2010, 14,000 people died of liver cancer.
Stomach cancer is associated with unhygienic conditions. “Many Indians have the H pylori bacteria in their bodies. Some develop cancers, while others develop lymphnodes in the stomach. This, if detected early, is can be cured easily,” said Singh.
In 2010, 12.6% of the cancer deaths among men and 14.1 % of the deaths among women were due to stomach cancer, the study states. Stomach cancer is the second-most fatal cancer among both men and women.
Cervical cancer, on the other hand, can be prevented by a regular visual examination of the cervix by health workers.