Mangaluru, Aug 29: Recent reports from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have indicated that in 2020 the country will have 13.9 lac afflicted with cancer and that tobacco-related cancer are expected to contribute to 3.7 lac (27.1%) of the total cancer burden.
Worse predictions are that in 2025 almost 15.6 lac will be affected. Statistics suggest that the cancer incidence in men is estimated to be 679,421 in 2020 and 763,575 in 2025, while among women, it is estimated to be 712,758 in 2020 and 806,218 in 2025. The report further highlighted that oral, lung and colorectal cancers were the most common cancers among men. This increase in 12% is attributed to multiple factors with tobacco-related cancers estimated to contribute to 27.1% of the total cancer burden, while gastrointestinal tract cancers and breast cancer also contribute in a major way. Estimations are that in women, cancer of the breast contributes to 2.0 lac (14.8%), cancer of cervix 0.75 lac (5.4%), while for both men and women, cancer of the gastrointestinal tract is estimated to contribute 2.7 lac (19.7%) of the total cancer burden.
Dr Suresh Rao, the director of Mangalore Institute of Oncology said that this is a major observation and that critical preventive and educative steps are the need of the hour. Cancer is a major illness in Dakshina Kannada and Karnataka and a leading cause of death. In the last century, cancer was usually considered to be a disease mostly affecting the senior population. However, the increase in life expectancy and change in lifestyle have contributed to an increase in numbers in both the elderly and young adults. What is worrying is that unlike in the past, the incidence of cancer of the breast is being seen in people in their late twenties and early thirties and that cancer in young individuals is more aggressive. Poor lifestyle, longer working hours, increasingly stressful lives, smoking, alcohol consumption, use of contraception, are all contributing to cancer of the breast. In addition to cancer of the breast, cancer of the head and neck, lung, oesophagus, pancreases, ovary and colon are also on a rise and while tobacco and alcohol are the main contributory factors for these cancers, adoption of western lifestyle, improper dietary habits, intake of processed foods, food additives, non-vegetarian diet, chemical pollution, constipation and lack of exercise also contribute to cancer. Dr Rao said that the best way to prevent cancer is by following the guidelines prescribed by the World Health Organisation:
Quit smoking and staying away from tobacco smoke reduces the chance of cancer. Tobacco users and alcohol drinkers should have regular oral checkups for early signs of cancer and seek medical attention and care.
Drinking less alcohol can lower the risk of cancer of the liver, breast, colorectal (colon), mouth, and throat.
Smokers should quit and have regular screening for the development of lung cancer.
Keeping a healthy weight can reduce the chances of developing breast, colon, endometrial, prostate and ovarian cancers.
Knowledge about signs and symptoms of cancer and practicing early detection guidelines. This is because early detection and timely treatment can cure many cancers fully.
Educating parents to inculcate a healthy lifestyle in children and having the girl child vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV).
Women should start getting screened for cervical cancer from age 21.
It is strongly suggested that after the age of 20, a woman must do breast self-examination every month, and must be evaluated by a clinician at least once every two years till she attains 40 years of age. In addition to this, it is also recommended that women above 40 years undergo a clinical examination and radiological imaging using a mammogram every year. Women should continue screening mammography as long as their overall health is good.
Both men and women should get themselves checked for colorectal cancer after the age of 50.
Dr Suresh Rao stated that in addition to providing state of the art treatment MIO has been active in creating public awareness on cancer causes, prevention, detection and treatment of cancer among the general public. The public support for cancer awareness endeavours is important for the present and future of a healthy Mangaluru and India.