Cancer in India

In India, people in their prime and in the most productive group are killed by cancer.  Cancer killed 5,56,400 people across the country in 2010. The 30-69 age group accounted for about 71% (3,95,400) of the deaths. In US, this age group contributes to only about 42% of total cancer deaths.

Cancer is one of the most investigated diseases in the US and EU.  However, most of the research would not directly benefit us due to three main reasons: (a) investigation in the US is focused on cancer that affects relatively older population, (b) the distribution of cancers in India and US are very different, and (c) the cancers are detected in India at later stages.

Among Indian women, cervical and breast cancers cause almost 30% of cancer deaths.  The percentage of women affected by these cancers is about the same in the rural and urban areas, but it is detected very late in the rural areas and leads to lower survival rates.  The lower diagnosis rates are probably due to reluctance of women to undergo testing for these cancers due to the social inhibition, lack of awareness, and apprehension to have a test that detects cancer.

Among Indian men, oral cancer caused by gutka (23%) is the biggest cause of death due to cancer.  In fact, a recent report prepared by experts of National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW) specified clearly that India alone accounted for 86 per cent of the total oral cancer figure across the world.