Tobacco behind more than a quarter of India’s cancer cases

Released by the National Cancer Registry of India, a new report has profiled the country’s cancer landscape

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 18 August 2020
Tobacco the leading cause of cancers in India: Govt report. Photo: Flickr

Tobacco-related cancers constitute the highest burden among all types of the disease in India. As many as 27 per cent of cancer cases were caused due to tobacco consumption, according to a new report released by the National Cancer Registry of India (NCRI) on August 18, 2020.

Gastro-intestinal tract cancers (19.7 per cent) and breast cancer (14.8 per cent) are the other most prevalent cancers in India, according to the NCRI, that functions under the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Lymphoid and haematopoietic malignancies (immune system and blood cancers), cervix cancers and ovarian cancers are the other common cancers in India.

The report released the cancer prevalence landscape by taking into account cases registered from 2012-2016. It projected that cancers will rise by 12 per cent to 1,569,793 cases in 2025, from 1,392,179 in 2020. 

The report has included data from 28 population-based cancer registries (PBCRs) and 58 hospital-based cancer registries (HBCRs) in India.

The PBCR takes into account, the number of cancer cases in a given geographical unit, for instance, Delhi. It can be a district or even a state. The HBCR takes into account, the number of cases that go to a particular hospital irrespective of their geographical background. 

The PBCR in Delhi registered the maximum number of cases (60,097), followed by Mumbai (53,714), Chennai (31,271), Bengaluru (29,049) and Thiruvananthapuram (27,833).

The cancers of the lungs, mouth, stomach and oesophagus were the most common among males. Cancers of the breast and cervix uteri were the most common cancers among females. 

Mizoram’s Aizawl district topped in terms of cancer incidence per 100,000 population in males, followed by the districts of East Khasi Hills in Meghalaya and Kamrup in Assam, the state of Mizoram, Papum Pare district in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya state, Delhi, Thiruvnanthapuram district in Kerala and Cachar district in Assam. 

Papum Pare had the worst cancer rate for females, followed by followed by Aizawl, Mizoram, Kamrup, Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai.

Mouth cancers were the leading cancers in eight sites: The districts of Ahmedabad Urban, Aurangabad, Osmanabad & Beed, Barshi Rural, Pune, Wardha, Bhopal and Nagpur.

Lung cancer was the leading cancer in eight other sites including the state of Delhi and the districts of Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata. The former is believed to be mostly caused by chewable tobacco and the latter by smoked tobacco. Thus, 16 out of 28 sites were affected directly because of tobacco in one or the other form. 

Overall, lung and head and neck cancers were on the rise while stomach cancers were on the decline. 

Breast cancers were leading female cancers in 19 out of 28 sites. In the remaining sites, cervix cancer was leading. Overall, while breast cancers witnessed a significant upward trend, cervix cancer cases declined. 

Childhood cancers are also on the rise. The Delhi PBCR recorded the highest proportion of childhood cancers in both the 0-14 years (3.7 per cent) and the 0-19 years age group (4.9 per cent).

From the HBCR data, leukaemia was the most common diagnosis of cancer, both in the 0-14 (boys, 46.4 per cent; girls, 44.3 per cent) and in the 0-19 age group (boys, 43.2 per cent; girls, 39.2 per cent).

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