In state, rise in cancer cases higher than national average
Despite the rising trend over the years, cancer treatment facilities in the state are limited.
Even after serious strides towards cancer treatment and rising awareness levels all over the world, the number of cancer cases is increasing in Uttarakhand. Between 2014 and 2016, these cases increased by 10.15% in the state, which was more than the national figure of 9.2%.
According to the data of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), there was a total of 11,240 cancer patients in Uttarakhand in 2014. The number increased to 11,796 in 2015, and by 2016, the figure was 12,381.
Besides this, the mortality of cancer patients also increased by 10.19% between 2014 and 2016 in Uttarakhand. This, too, was higher than the national figure of 9.3%.
The ICMR data also states that cases of breast cancer among females in Uttarakhand increased by 13.7% between 2014 and 2016. In comparison to this, the national average increased by 12.3%. The number of cases of cervical cancer in the state increased by 2.9%, whereas the national average was 2.4%. Cases of lung cancer among males increased from 624 in 2014 to 701 in 2016, a rise of 12.3%. The national average for this period was 11.2%.
Despite the rising trend over the years, cancer treatment facilities in the state are limited. At present, Uttarakhand is among the handful of states that do not have a dedicated regional centre for cancer care. However, the state has sent proposals to the Centre to set-up a state cancer institute at the Government Medical College, Haldwani, and a tertiary care cancer centre at the Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Dehradun.
Speaking about the prevalence of cancer in the state, Dr Mahesh Sultania, surgical oncologist (consultant) at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Dehradun, said, “Most cases that we receive are related to head and neck or gynecological cancers. Females are mostly diagnosed with cervical and breast cancers. Among males, throat and oral cancers are very common in Uttarakhand.”
He added that the scenario in Uttarakhand is peculiar because the awareness level about cancer is very low. “At times, we come across patients who, despite being diagnosed for cancer, trust on alternate medications and visit us only at advance stages of the disease,” he said.
Due to the high consumption of tobacco and alcohol in the hills, oral and lung cancers are common. The ICMR data for 2016 reveals that 28.79% of all cancer cases in Uttarakhand (approximately one in every four patients) were caused due to tobacco consumption.
In 2010, a team of six doctors at Government Medical College, Haldwani, analysed 354 cancer cases admitted for treatment at the Swami Ram Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Haldwani, a referral centre for cancer patients in the Kumaon region.
The doctors found that most patients suffered from lung cancer and 88.52% of the patients were males. This was commensurate to another study carried out by doctors in Dehradun in 2009 wherein they studied 232 lung cancer patients and found that 89.16% of them were males.
The 2010 study also found that breast cancer is the most prevalent among females, followed by cervical and ovarian cancers.