Himachal’s cancer cases shot up 800% in 10 years - Hindustan Times

Himachal’s cancer cases shot up 800% in 10 years

By, Shimla
Apr 18, 2024 07:54 AM IST

Experts attribute the increase to improved diagnostic facilities and more awareness even in remote areas

The state has recorded an unprecedented 800% increase in cancer cases between 2013 to 2022, data from the health department has shown. The number of cancer patients registered with different government health institutions in Himachal shot up from 2,149 in 2013 to an alarming 17,212 in 2022. Data for 2023 is being compiled.

Cancer cases in Himachal shot up from 2,149 in 2013 to an alarming 17,212 in 2022. (HT File)
Cancer cases in Himachal shot up from 2,149 in 2013 to an alarming 17,212 in 2022. (HT File)

The government attributes the increase in cancer patients to improved diagnostic facilities and more awareness in the rural and far-flung locations of the state.

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Chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu disclosed that around 8,500 cases were detected every year, while many may go undetected in the remote belts. “It is my priority to provide the best health facilities in every far-reaching corner of the state and this is the main focus area of the state government,” he said.

Notably, the state government is also exploring the possibility of setting up a centrally funded National Cancer Institute at Hamirpur.

“The number of patients is extremely high in Himachal. Also, patients have more diagnostic facilities in the state so they come forward more now and cases are diagnosed at the early stage,” director of health services Gopal Berry said.

The regional cancer hospital at Indira Gandhi Medical College, the state’s first cancer hospital, witnesses a heavy rush of patients. Over the years, successive governments have improved a few facilities. Surprisingly though, the hospital does not yet offer PET scans, an imaging test key in detecting cancer, forcing patients to travel elsewhere.

Himachal has reported a high number of lung cancer cases. “Patients of lung cancer come from all over the state. What is more difficult is that 60% of patients visit the hospital when the cancer reaches advanced stages,” the head of the radiotherapy department at Shimla’s Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital Manish Gupta said.

High numbers of breast cancer cases have also been, especially among women from the age group of 25 to 35.

“Genetic factors and family history of breast cancer increase the risk. These factors are beyond our control. But many studies have identified factors such as obesity, poor lifestyle, smoking, and drinking alcohol can increase your risk significantly,” Jyoti Mahajan, assistant professor at Shimla’s Kamala Nehru Hospital, the lone mother-child hospital in the state, said.

The prevalence of cervical cancer is on the rise, and around 10% of women suffer from it. There have been no region-wise studies, but according to the available information, more cases were reported from Chamba and Kullu districts. Long-lasting infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer.

“HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another through sexual intercourse. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but only a few report cervical cancer,” says Mahajan

Another 5% patients in Himachal suffer from gastrointestinal cancer, which develops along the digestive tract. More cases were reported from regions with nonvegetarian food habits.

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    Gaurav Bisht heads Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. He covers politics in the hill state and other issues concerning the masses.

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