India’s cancer cases could increase by 12% in the next five years, with 1.5 million people projected to suffer from the non-communicable disease by 2025, up from 1.39 million in 2020, according to data based on current trends from the cancer report by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The report also found that in 2020, tobacco-related cancers are estimated to contribute to 27.1% of the total cancer burden, and the highest of this will be in the North-eastern region of the country. Cancers of the gastrointestinal tract and breast are projected to be the next most prevalent.
Among men, cancers of the lung, mouth, stomach and oesophagus were the most common. For women, breast and cervix uteri cancers were the most common.
The National Cancer Registry Programme Report 2020 was released on Tuesday by ICMR and National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR), Bengaluru.
The report provides trends and information related to cancer incidence, mortality and treatment in India in 2020, based on data collected through a network of population and hospital-based cancer registries across the country. There are 28 Population Based Cancer Registries and 58 Hospital Based Cancer Registries that ICMR is running to generate cancer data.
The cancer incidence (new cases) in men is estimated to be 679,421 in 2020 and 763,575 in 2025. Among women, it is estimated to be 712,758 in 2020 and 806,218 in 2025.
Breast cancer in women is estimated to contribute 200,000 (14.8%) and cervix cancer cases about 75,000 (5.4%), whereas for both men and women, cancers of the gastrointestinal tract is estimated to contribute 270,000 (19.7%) of the total cancer burden.
Cancers of lung were diagnosed at a stage of spread to distant sites, while cancers of head and neck, stomach, breast and cervix were in higher proportions with loco-regional spread, finds the report.
A combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy continues to remain the main stay of cancer treatment in the country. All three forms are usually tried in cancers of breast and head and neck, while cancer of cervix was treated mainly with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. For cancers of the lung and the stomach, systemic therapy was the mode of treatment.
“Cancer treatment has seen significant improvement over the years and now we have targeted therapies or what you call precision medicine available that has lead to improved treatment outcomes. Also, the numbers may be growing but what works as a silver lining is that more patients are coming at early stages because of which cure rate is also improving. Now we have sophisticated tests that give accurate results. In stage 4 lung cancer, for example, 5-year survival was unheard of earlier but now many do make it,” says Dr PK Julka, former head, radiation oncology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.