1. Health & Lifestyle

World Cancer Day 2020: Most Common Types of Cancer in India; Facts, Figures & Prevention Tips

Pronami Chetia
Pronami Chetia

Cancer is one of the fastest-growing diseases across the globe and the second main cause of death worldwide. As per the report, cancer accounted for 9.6 million deaths in 2018 while an estimated 606,880 people died in the United States. Globally, about 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.  On the other hand, according to the India Council of Medical Research (ICMR), more than 1300 Indians die every day due to cancer. Moreover, Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body.

But surprisingly, science reveals that cancer is a man-made disease and it mainly occurred due to the wrong food habits, lifestyle and dietary factors. Around one-third of deaths from cancer are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use, says the reports of WHO(World Health Organization). Wrong food habits, modern lifestyle adopted by humans unknowingly invited this fatal disease.

World Cancer Day 2020: Important Facts about Cancer

One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs, the latter process is referred to as metastasizing. Metastases are a major cause of death from cancer.

Globally, about 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.

Approximately 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Around one-third of deaths from cancer are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.

Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths.

Late-stage presentation and inaccessible diagnosis and treatment are common. In 2017, only 26% of low-income countries reported having pathology services generally available in the public sector. More than 90% of high-income countries reported treatment services are available compared to less than 30% of low-income countries.

The economic impact of cancer is significant and is increasing. The total annual economic cost of cancer in 2010 was estimated at approximately US$ 1.16 trillion.

Only 1 in 5 low- and middle-income countries have the necessary data to drive cancer policy.

Most Common Types of Cancer in India

As per research, the top cancers that affect the Indian population are lung, breast, cervical, head and neck and colorectal cancer. 

A combination of environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors are the main reason behind this deadly disease in India. However, the use of tobacco and tobacco products is another prime causes of cancer in India. Vaping, smoking, second-hand smoke, air pollution, chewing tobacco, are major factors responsible for lung and head and neck cancers in India. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer detected in women in India and cervical cancer is the leading cause of death among women.

How to Prevent Cancer?

Between 30-50% of all cancer cases are preventable. Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer. National policies and programmes should be implemented to raise awareness, to reduce exposure to cancer risk factors and to ensure that people are provided with the information and support they need to adopt healthy lifestyles.

Early diagnosis

Early diagnosis of cancer generally increases the chances for successful treatment by focusing on detecting symptomatic patients as early as possible. Delays in accessing cancer care are common with the late-stage presentation, particularly in lower resource settings and vulnerable populations.

Avoid Tobacco

Worldwide, tobacco use is the single greatest avoidable risk factor for cancer mortality and kills approximately 6 million people each year, from cancer and other diseases. Tobacco smoke has more than 7000 chemicals, at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer.

Avoid Physical Inactivity, Dietary Factors, Obesity 

Dietary modification is another important approach to cancer control. There is a link between overweight and obesity to many types of cancer such as oesophagus, colorectum, breast, endometrium and kidney. Diets high in fruits and vegetables may have an independent protective effect against many cancers. Regular physical activity and the maintenance of healthy body weight, along with a healthy diet, considerably reduce cancer risk.

Avoid Alcohol Use

Alcohol use is a risk factor for many cancer types including cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and breast. Risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. For several types of cancer, heavy drinking of alcohol combined with tobacco use substantially increases the risks of cancer.

Environmental Pollution

Pollution of air, water and soil with carcinogenic chemicals contributes to the cancer burden to differing degrees depending on the geographical settings. Outdoor air pollution is classified as carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, for humans. It has been estimated that outdoor air pollution contributed to 3.2 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012 including more than 200,000 lung cancer deaths.

Avoid Excessive Radiation

Exposure to all types of ionizing radiation, from both natural and man-made sources, increases the risk of various types of malignancy including leukaemia and a number of solid tumours. Risks increase when the exposure occurs at a young age and also when the exposure amount is higher. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and in particular solar radiation, is carcinogenic to humans, causing all major types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma.

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