Real cancer cases up to 3 times higher than reported in India

India is faced with a sizable cancer incidence burden, which continues to grow exponentially.

New Delhi: Real cancer incidence level in India is estimated to be 1.5 to three times higher than reported incidence as 51 per cent patients take more than a week to conclude diagnosis while 46 per cent take second opinion due to lack of confidence in initial diagnosis and suggested treatment, a report showed on Tuesday.

The reported cancer incidence in India this year is estimated to be 19 to 20 lakh, whereas real incidence is 1.5 to 3 times higher than the reported cases, according to a study by FICCI and EY titled “Call for Action: Making quality cancer care more accessible and affordable in India”.

India is faced with a sizable cancer incidence burden, which continues to grow exponentially.

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The 2020 WHO ranking on cancer burden in terms of new yearly cases being reported had ranked India at the third position after China and the US, respectively.

“For cancer prevention, early diagnosis and widespread public awareness will be integral and will serve as a beacon of light to strengthen India’s strategy for cancer care and other non-communicable diseases,” said Ashok Kakkar, Chair, FICCI Task Force on Cancer Care.

“While some of the most cutting-edge cancer treatment methods and technology are available in our country, we still have a long way to go before we can ensure that cancer patients from every socioeconomic background receive the best possible care,” added Kakkar, also Managing Director, Varian Medical Systems International India Pvt Ltd.

Cancer disease burden in India is characterized by poor detection with not more than 29 per cent, 15 per cent and 33 per cent of breast lung and cervical cancers being diagnosed in stages 1 and 2, respectively.

The cancer of the head and neck are found to be progressing at a CAGR of 23 per cent, prostate cancer at 19 per cent, ovarian cancer at 11 per cent and breast cancer at 8 per cent, which is faster than the overall growth rate of incidence.

Six states, which represent 18 per cent of India’s population, have 23 per cent share of the country’s reported incidence burden and have the highest crude incidence rates.

Kerala, Mizoram, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab, and Assam report the highest overall crude incidence rates of cancers which is greater than 130 cases per lakh population, the report mentioned.

Estimates indicate that the total deaths owing to cancer were 8 to 9 lakh in 2020, causing the mortality to incidence ratio for different cancer types in India to be among the poorest compared to global counterparts.

“To address the dual challenge of rising incidence and sub-optimal mortality to incidence ratio, it is imperative to drive mass awareness campaigns, focus on effective prevention and enable improved screening coverage as a primary response,a said Srimayee Chakraborty, Life Sciences Partner, EY India.

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