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India’s Cancer Burden

  Feb 10, 2023

India’s Cancer Burden

Q. Why is this in news ?

A.  The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)­National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR) National Cancer Registry Programme Report has estimated that the number of cancer cases in India is 13.9 lakh. 


  • India has seen a steady rise in cancer cases over many decades. 
  • A 2017 report showed that India’s cancer burden increased 2.6 times between 1990 to 2016, and deaths due to cancers doubled during the time.
  • Almost two thirds of these cancer cases are at late stages. 

Q. What is most prevalent forms of cancers ?


  • In men, the most common cancers are of the lung, oral cavity, stomach and oesophagus, while in women, breast, cervix, ovary and gall bladder cancers are the most common.  

Q. What are Risk Factors associated ?


  • Tobacco use (in all forms) is a major avoidable risk factor for the development of cancer in 27% of cancer cases. Other important risk factors include alcohol use, inappropriate diet, low physical activity, obesity, and pollution.

Q. What would be its impact ?


  • Cancer causes loss of lives and also has a tremendous socioeconomic impact.
  • Reducing cancer is a prerequisite for addressing social and economic inequity, stimulating economic growth and accelerating sustainable development. 

Q. What should be Focus Approach ?


  • There is a need to focus on three key aspects: risk reduction, early detection and programmatic and policy solutions.
  • Community empowerment: As it is estimated that nearly 50%­60% of cancer cases can be avoided by tackling the known risk factors effectively. Community empowerment through a multisectoral approach that brings together government, private practitioners and civil society to increase health literacy and promote certain behaviour can go a long way in reducing potential risk factors. 
  • Improved awareness can also prevent stigma attached to the disease. 
  • Health systems should be  strengthened so that there is greater access to screening and vaccination, early detection, and timely, affordable treatment.

Q. What are few Government’s Steps in this regard ?


  • Government programmes such as Ayushman Bharat, Swasthya Bharat, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Poshan Abhiyaan and Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana and initiatives such as 
  • FSSAI’s new labelling and display regulations and drug price control can encourage inter­sectoral and multisectoral action. 
  • Other initiatives such as the National Health Policy, the National Tobacco Control Programme, and the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke are also paving the way for progress.

Q. What might be way forward ?

A.  As India is committed to achieving a one-third reduction in cancer related deaths by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals , our approach to fight cancer  should not simply focus on diagnostics, treatment modalities and vaccines, but emphasise inclusivity in thinking and action for equitable solutions that can greatly reduce the impact of cancer across all socioeconomic levels in the country.