How Common is Cancer in India?
Cancer… the name itself is dangerous enough to frighten anyone. But for us Indians, it’s a term we associate with “other” people. We don’t believe cancer is something that can happen to us and as a result we ignore the symptoms of this life-threatening disease allowing it, over time, to develop into something incurable. Cancer in the past was considered a disease that struck our western counterparts but in India today, it is a bitter truth. With every passing day cancer claims more Indian lives.
Cancer is now one of the leading causes of deaths in India. At any given time over 30 lakh individuals suffer from cancer in India and the statistics are rising each year. Cancer was considered a disease for the aged but it is startling to note that 70% of Indian cancer deaths happen in the prime age of 30-69 years. To make matters worse 15% deaths happen in children and young adults.
Why not cured at earlier stages?
Cancer is divided into several stages depending on its severity. The more time it gets to develop in the body the more dangerous it becomes. Most of the cancers in India are detected at a stage where it is too late – actually 80% of Indian cancers are detected too late.
There are several reasons for getting cancer. While genetic predisposition and age are spoken of widely, lifestyle plays a huge role. Unfortunately, healthy living seems to be a thing of the past, especially in urban India. Eating and drinking habits have changed drastically, pollution and sun exposure is not controlled, and sexual habits too have changed to a great extent. While monitoring lifestyle can help reduce your risk, it is also important to pick up symptoms early.
Unfortunately, in India we still struggle to pick up symptoms early. Some of the reasons are lack of awareness of the disease and its symptoms but most importantly the low priority we Indians place on our health. We believe in never visiting a doctor till the discomfort is beyond bearing!
The way out:
Change in lifestyle and early detection of symptoms is the only way India can solve this problem. For a healthy lifestyle, reduce your fat content and eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and keep away from the sun when possible. As far as symptoms are concerned, if any change happens to your body like untimely bleeding, visible lumps, change in bowel and bladder habits then do take note. If these symptoms persist for more than 3 weeks to a month, then go see your doctor immediately. Most of the time, these may not be cancer symptoms but it’s important to be sure.
In a developing country like India, where health is taking a back seat, the rise of cancer is inevitable. While medical science has improved enough to cope with the earlier stages, it has not been able to discover the magic pill to eradicate it completely. Therefore, it becomes very important to prioritise the needs of your body and notice every slight change so you can fight cancer before it’s too late.
Cancer Country, India Today