Why is cancer prevalence rising in India? | Health

Cancer cases in India are on the rise, with experts predicting a steep increase in the number of people suffering from the disease over the next two decades. This alarming trend is highlighted by the stories of individuals like Praful Reddy, an IT professional from Andhra Pradesh, who is battling lung cancer, and 12-year-old Dipti from Bengaluru, who is undergoing treatment for a rare kidney cancer.

According to a report by Apollo Hospitals, India has been labeled as “the cancer capital of the world.” The study paints a grim picture of declining overall health in the country, with soaring rates of cancer and other non-communicable diseases. It reveals that chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and mental health disorders have reached critical levels in India.

The study projects that the number of annual cancer cases in the country will increase to 1.57 million by 2025, up from almost 1.4 million in 2020. Breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer are the most common forms affecting women, while lung, mouth, and prostate cancer are prevalent among men.

Factors contributing to the rising incidence of cancer in India include advancing age, unhealthy diets, exposure to air pollution, and increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation due to climate change. Children are also increasingly affected by cancer, with around a million new cases detected in India every year, 4% of which are in children.

The lack of pediatric oncology facilities in public hospitals poses a significant challenge for families facing childhood cancer. Many parents struggle with diagnosis, access to care, medications, and social stigma associated with the disease. The need for regular screenings and preventive health care measures is crucial in the fight against cancer.

Experts emphasize the importance of increasing health screening rates in India and implementing policies to expand screening and curative services for cancer. Despite existing screening programs for oral, breast, and cervical cancer, screening rates remain low, well below the World Health Organization’s recommended 70% testing rate for women.

As India faces a potential doubling of cancer cases by 2040, individuals, society, and the government must work together to prevent the devastating impact of this disease. Taking proactive steps to prioritize screening, access to care, and financial protection for cancer patients is essential in reducing the burden of cancer in the country.

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