Out of 1,091 suspected cancer patients from the district, only 505 turned up for at cancer screening camps held on Saturday and Sunday. Of these, 99 were declared to be suffering from cancer, while 81 were declared out of danger by oncologists.
The low turnout of patients was attributed to the delay in holding the screening camp, which was organised after eight-month door-to-door survey.
Patients, who were advised to undergo ultrasound scan, had to return disappointed in the absence of the facility at the civil hospital for those who had come to the screening camp. "It is difficult to provide ultrasound facility to such a large number of patients simultaneously," said Sanjeev Kumar, head of sales and marketing, Max hospital at Bathinda.
The survey, which was conducted in December 2012, had covered 99.86% people in the district in 1.07 lakh houses. Of the all, 1,091 people were found to be suffering from one or more of the 12 symptoms, while 588 had declared themselves to be suffering from cancer. As per the survey, 780 deaths had occurred during the past five years. On the state-level, cancer kills 19 people every day.
The Cancer Screening Campaign, touted to be world's largest such initiative, was carried out in 22 districts of the state, giving the government a reason enough to pat its back. Instead of focusing on treatment of people afflicted with cancer or eliminating the root causes of cancer, the health department had devoted all its efforts on the screening aspect only.
The drive, launched by the Punjab government along with Max Healthcare, was supported by cricketer Yuvraj Singh and his NGO 'YouWeCan' besides Core Diagnostics, Strand Genomics, Lumax and Philips. The super-specialty hospitals of Max Healthcare in SAS Nagar and Bathinda are under the PPP arrangement with the state government.
The excessive use of chemicals has repeatedly been blamed for high incidence of cancer in the region. Noted actor Aamir Khan also highlighted the bad effects of chemicals in farming in his TV show 'Satyamev Jayate'.
But no study has been carried out so far, which co-relates use of chemicals with cancer. However, in response to show-cause notices of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued in 2011 and 2012, the state government had banned about 20 pesticides to reduce the incidence of cancer. It confirms to some extent that government considers pesticides as one of the causes for cancer.
According to Dr GPI Singh, vice-chancellor of Adesh University, "Multi-factorial studies must be carried out to find out the main causes of cancer. Efforts should be made to nip such causes in the bud."
For cheaper treatment of cancer, a large number of patients from Punjab's cotton belt board the train, dubbed as the 'Cancer Express', to reach Bikaner's Acharya Tulsi Regional Cancer Treatment and Research Centre.
Punjab Mukh Mantri Cancer Rahat Kosh Scheme, which was started in June 2011, provides financial help up to a maximum of `1.5 lakh if cancer treatment is taken at any of the 16 empanelled hospitals.
National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP) initiated preparation of Cancer Atlas, covering the entire state of Punjab. A population-based cancer registry is available in Government Medical College, Patiala, while a hospital-based cancer registry is at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. A proposal for setting up a population-based cancer registry at Bathinda has been submitted to the Indian Council for Medical Research.