Published On: Wed, Feb 3rd, 2021

Mortality Rate of Cancer Can Be Halved with Early Detection: Medical Experts at Meenakshi Mission Hospital

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  • Though preventable and curable, cancer is the leading cause of death – next to heart diseases – in India.
  • Tamil Nadu is estimated to have the fifth highest number of breast cancer cases in the country – it is the only state in South India to feature in the top five list.

Madurai, 03 February 2021: As cancer is diagnosed only after the disease advances to the terminal stage in the majority of cases in India and states like Tamil Nadu, more than 50% of patients who are diagnosed with cancer die. Ironically, the success rate of treatments for all forms of cancer is increasing – some to 99%,” said the medical experts of Meenakshi Mission Hospital & Research Centre, Madurai. They added that the country can halve the cancer deaths by popularizing preventive health check-ups and investing in medical infrastructure for comprehensive early detection and treatment.

Addressing a media briefing in connection with World Cancer Day, which falls on February 4, every year, the experts pointed out that breast cancer cases in Tamil Nadu is rising by 4% every year. The State is estimated to have the fifth highest number of breast cancer cases in the country. It is the only state in South India to feature in the top five list.

In his address, Dr. K S Kirushnakumar, HOD, Oncology, Meenakshi Mission Hospital, said that globally, about 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer. Reflecting the global trend, even in India, which ranks third in terms of number of cancer cases, cancer is the second largest cause of death, next to heart disease. India’s cancer death rate is 79 per 100,000 deaths. In the recent years, more than 12 lakh Indians are diagnosed with various forms of cancer annually, and there are about 8 lakh deaths. Tamil Nadu is among the top 10 states in terms of the prevalence of cancer. A major reason for the high mortality rate is late diagnosis – the reasons for late diagnosis could be lack of awareness, and opportunity or reluctance in availing screening programmes.

Dr. Krishnakumar Rathnam, Senior Consultant & Head, Medical Oncology, Meenakshi Mission Hospital, said that cancer cases in India are likely to increase to 15.6 lakhs by 2025, according to the National Cancer Registry Programme Report 2020. Though there are over 200 types of cancer, the cancer of the breast, oral cavity, cervix, lungs, stomach and colon or rectum were the most common in India. Cancer patterns in India are dominated by a high burden of tobacco-related head and neck cancers, particularly oral cancer, in men and of cervical cancer in women.

Dr. R Vijayabhaskar, Senior Consultant & Head, Surgical Oncology, Meenakshi Mission Hospital, said that though cancer is a complex disease, most of its risk factors are modifiable. The known and modifiable risk factors are lifestyle related – such as tobacco use in any form, recant chewing, and alcohol consumption. Poor nutrition, chronic infection of certain viruses, being overweight or obese, are other equally dangerous risk factors. People must go for early detection / screening, modify lifestyles, and work for creating a hygiene environment in their localities.

In his address Dr. P Ananda Selvakumar, Senior Consultant – Radiation Oncology, Meenakshi Mission Hospital, said that cancer is divided into 4 stages. Treatment available for cancer are surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. For example in Head & Neck cancer at early stage. At an early stage (stage I & II)   patients will require only a single Modality treatment – either surgery (or) Radiation therapy. Once it becomes stage III (or) IV, multimodal treatment is always required – either two or three forms of treatment.

The medical experts stressed the need for public health policies to promote balanced diet, active lifestyle, and to bring down smoking, tobacco chewing, and alcohol consumption, the known and modifiable risk factors of cancer. Besides, to ease the burden of cancer, the coverage of health insurance must be expanded.

The 2019-2021 World Cancer Day theme is: ‘I Am, and I Will. ‘. It is an empowering call to action urging for personal commitment and represents the power of individual action taken now to impact the future.

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