At least 18 persons die of cancer every day in Punjab, as per a survey conducted by the state government.
As many as 33,318 cancer deaths have been reported during the past five years, but there were no figures on whether the incidence of cancer deaths was on the rise or declining, Punjab health minister Madan Mohan Mittal said at a press conference here.
"This is the first such survey conducted in the state," the minister said.
During the statewide survey, 23,874 cases were recorded where people said they suffered from cancer. The cotton belt in the Malwa region recorded a high number of cancer patients. The minister said the use of pesticides could be one of the main reasons for the disease being widespread in this region.
As per the survey, Muktsar district is the worst affected with 136.3 cancer patients per lakh population, followed by Mansa (134.8), Bathinda (125.4), Ferozepur (113.9), Fatehgarh Sahib (106.3), Kapurthala (99.1), Barnala (98.7), SAS Nagar (94.5), Rupnagar (90), Sangrur (93.4), Moga (88.4), Jalandhar (87.3), Hoshiarpur (86.9), Patiala (86.8), Ludhiana (83.4), Nawanshahr (79.4), Gurdaspur (59.9) and Tarn Taran (40.9).
On an average, 90 people per lakh population in Punjab suffer from cancer, as per the survey.
The high incidence of cancer deaths in the state was because the disease was normally detected at a late stage, the minister said.
Mittal, who released the report of the 'Statewide cancer awareness and symptom-based early detection door-to-door campaign', said all 12,603 villages and 217 towns and cities of Punjab were covered under the survey.
The next step, he said, would be to send all suspects as well as those who claim to be suffering from cancer to health institutions to confirm the diagnosis. The diagnostic and treatment facilities available with the government would be free for them, he added.
The survey was conducted from October 2 to 31, 2012, at a total cost of Rs 1.7 crore against a proposed budget of Rs 2 crore, shared in 75:25 ratio by the Centre and the state government.