With cancer cases on the rise in India, the best way to counter the disease is for the government to focus on preventive measures and to highlight the adverse effects of tobacco in school curriculums, opined two experts on the subject. The suggestions were made in an article coauthored by Shuvendu Sen, vice-chair, research faculty (internal medicine) Jersey Shore University Medical Center and internationally acclaimed radiation oncologist Dattatreyudu Nori.
The article reveals some key statistics with regard to the high prevalence of cancer in the country with the new cases standing at 13.8 lakh. According to another new report, cancer cases in the country increased at an average annual rate of 1.1-2 per cent between 2010 and 2019. Fatalities also rose at an average rate of 0.1-1 per cent during the same period. The two writers say that the top three cancers in India are breast, cervix, and oral, which are all preventable.
Early detection and subsequent prevention policies and programmes can reduce their numbers. They say the country needs dedicated social workers and paramedics trained in the early detection of major cancers to go door-to-door, especially in rural settings. They can go around households asking specific health-related questions in order to figure out if any individual had cancer symptoms.
This will help in early detection, they point out. The article suggests that the government should subsidise and make cancer screening programmes cost-effective to particularly help the economically-deprived sections. “Emotions and ethics apart, purely from a business standpoint, preventing cancer amongst the poor millions will be more profitable than building corporate hospitals,” they argue.
The writers also identify tobacco as the main cause of cancer, and suggest incorporating the ‘deathprovoking adverse effects’ of tobacco chewing and nicotine smoking into national school curriculums, besides imparting information on early warning signs of cancer as a part of formal education.