LONDON: India is facing a cancer crisis, with smoking, belated diagnosis and unequal access to treatment causing large-scale problems, experts said.
Every year in India around one million new cancer cases are diagnosed and around 600,000 to 700,000 people die from cancer. With this death toll projected to rise to around 1.2 million deaths per year by 2035, a new report on cancer care in India published in The Lancet Oncology reported.
The new report has been compiled by Professor Richard Sullivan and Professor Arnie Purushotham from King’s Health Partners Cancer Centre at King’s College London with the help of senior Indian colleagues including Professor CS Pramesh and Professor Rajan Badwe at the Tata Memorial Cancer Centre, Mumbai.
“Access to affordable cancer treatment and care in India lags behind other parts of the world.
Making such treatment and care accessible will require addressing its causes, while also developing affordable treatments,” Professor Sunil Khilnani, Director, King’s India Institute, King’s College London, said. Although India has a relatively lower incidence of cancer (around a quarter of that in the USA or Western Europe), the rate of deaths from cancer, adjusted for age, is similar to that seen in high-income countries, the report said.
Less than a third of patients with cancer in India currently survive for more than five years after diagnosis.
Around 95 per cent of the medical colleges in India do not have comprehensive cancer care services, comprising Surgical, Medical and Radiation Oncology departments, in the same campus.
Currently there are around 2,000 medical and radiation oncologists in India – one per 5000 newly diagnosed cancer patients – and in almost all remote or rural areas even the most basic cancer treatment facilities are non-existent, it said.
As a result, urban cancer centers are overcrowded and under-resourced, leading to long waiting times, delayed diagnoses, and treatment that comes too late for many patients.-PTI