Cancer in India and The Fight Against It: What Every Indian Should Know

The news comes like a sledgehammer into the stomach: “I’m sorry to tell you, but you have cancer”. Every year, lakhs of Indians are devastated by news of cancer. On an average, more than 1,300 Indians succumb to the dreaded disease every day. With new cancer cases or its incidence in India estimated to grow by 25% by 2020 (according to the cancer registry released by the Indian Council of Medical Research), cancer has become one of the major causes of death occurring in the country. Women, especially, are being increasingly diagnosed with cancer. Yet, when the topic comes up in drawing room discussions or family gatherings, it’s delicately brushed under the carpet.

With the deadly disease striking deep roots in India, it is important know about cancer and what you can do about it. This Cancer Awareness Day, increase your knowledge of this disease.

What is it?

Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases that are caused when a group of abnormal cells begins to grow uncontrollably, often forming a tumour.

There are two types of tumours. The first is benign tumours that do not spread into, or invade, nearby tissues. When removed they usually don’t grow back. An important fact is that unlike most benign tumors elsewhere in the body, benign brain tumors can be life threatening.

The other type of tumours are malignant, or tumours that invade nearby tissues, sometimes spreading to distant areas of the body (known as metastasizing). This tumour are more dangerous as they give rise to new tumours and can recur even after removal.

The good news is that if cancer is detected in its early stages, it can be treated and an individual can lead a healthy life. Also, advances in treatment and awareness of symptoms mean that 85 per cent of those diagnosed live beyond five years.

The cancer scenario in India

The number of cancer cases in India is increasing every year. According to WHO’s Cancer Report, in India, lung, oral, lip, throat and neck cancers are the most common among men while women suffer more from cervix, breast and ovarian cancers. In the elderly, the most commonly occurring cancers are kidney, intestine and prostate cancer.

A Second Chance

Cancer is difficult to beat but its not impossible. Manisha Koirala bravely fought ovarian cancer to recover from it completely. Diagnosed at the age of 54, Mumtaz bravely fought and survived breast cancer. Yuvraj Singh returned to cricket after beating germ cell cancer and Lisa Ray bounced back after defeating an aggressive bone marrow myeloma. Anurag Basu was given two months to live but he fought and survived fought an acute promyelocytic leukemia. Having been given a second chance, these cancer crusaders know the vital importance of early detection and are now campaigning to raise awareness about it.

With a cancer epidemic haunting the nation, Indians need to arm themselves with knowledge. Experts say that the future of the battle against cancer depends about people’s awareness about their body the lifestyle changes they make. This article is an effort to raise much-needed awareness about this deadly disease. Don’t let cancer take you by surprise!

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