A door-to-door survey being carried out by the state health department has revealed worrying statistics about cancer deaths in the state. In the past five years, 31,595 people died of the disease in Punjab, bringing the average to 17 cancer deaths a day.
The survey is 90% complete and the figure is expected to rise once the final data is analysed.
During the survey, health department teams have so far gathered information from nearly 47.8 lakh households in the state and come across 57,932 people who are suspected to have cancer.
The figure for those with the condition is 22,734. The information in the survey was accessed by Hindustan Times.
Among districts, Sangrur tops the chart with more than 1,300 deaths in five years. The figure for Barnala is 421; 700 for Patiala and 1,000 for Bathinda. However, many districts are yet to submit data regarding cancer deaths in the past five years.
A joint director-level official of the health department, who did not wish to be named, said breast cancer and cervical cancer were the most prevalent in the state.
The special door-to-door survey, which began on December 1, is yet to be completed though it had to meet a December 28 deadline.
Dr Hansraj, who is heading the cancer survey in Patiala, declined comment on the information regarding the survey. “The very purpose of the survey would be defeated if we comment on it before the final report is prepared. As far as its completion is concerned, we are trying our best to complete it within the next few days,” he said.
According to the World Health Organisation, there four components for controlling cancer: prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment. Here are some ways to counter the fatal disease:
At least one-third cancer cases are preventable, says the WHO. Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer:
Tobacco use is the single-greatest avoidable risk factor for cancer mortality. It causes an estimated 22% deaths every year. Tobacco smoking can lead to cancers of the lung, oesophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix. About 70% of the lung cancer burden can be attributed to smoking alone. Second-hand smoke has been proven to cause lung cancer in nonsmoking adults. Chewing tobacco, meanwhile, causes oral, oesophageal and pancreatic cancer.
Physical inactivity, poor diet
According to WHO, there is a link between overweight and obesity to many types of cancer such as oesophagus, colorectum, breast, endometrium and kidney. Diets high in fruits and vegetables can protect against cancer. Physical activity, along with a healthy diet, also reduces the chances of developing cancer.
Alcohol use is a risk factor for many cancer types, including cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and breast. Risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. The risk from heavy drinking for several cancer types substantially increases if a person is also a heavy smoker. Attributable fractions vary between men and women for certain types of alcohol-related cancer, mainly because of differences in average levels of consumption.
According to WHO, infectious agents are responsible for nearly 22% cancer deaths in developing countries. Viral hepatitis B and C cause cancer of the liver; human papilloma virus infection causes cervical cancer; the bacterium helicobacter pylori increases the risk to stomach cancer.
Early detection of cancer
Early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment. Recognising possible warning signs of cancer and taking prompt action leads to early diagnosis. Some early signs of cancer include lumps, sores that fail to heal, abnormal bleeding, persistent indigestion, and chronic hoarseness. Early diagnosis is particularly relevant for cancers of the breast, cervix, mouth, larynx, colon and rectum, and skin.
Screening refers to the use of simple tests to identify those with the disease. Examples include mammography for breast cancer and cytology screening for cervical cancer.