February 03, 2018 3 min read

“Awareness is but the First Step”

Cancer in India is one of the most prevalent diseases with 7 lakh new cases being detected every year, and 25 lakh fellow citizens and their families living in its shadow at any point of time. Awareness about cancer in India is alarmingly low, which inadvertently leads to belief in unscientific myths, lack of precautionary measures, detection at advanced stages, underdeveloped cancer treatment facilities and unfortunate deaths nearing 5.6 lakhs per year.


Latest statistics reveal that staggering 1300 cancer deaths are reported every single day in India. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in their cancer registry, has predicted a rise of 25% in the incidence of cancer in India by 2020. All the above factors contribute to such a horrifying figure, and it is high time to generate widespread awareness. This World Cancer Day – let us take the pledge to stop the increasing spread of cancer and bring awareness instead, throughout the length and breadth of the nation.


In simple terms, cancer signifies the uncontrolled growth of certain harmful body cells. The inception of malignancy or cancer in a person usually begins from a tumor. In general, an overgrown mass of cells is called a tumor. There are two types of tumors:

  • Benign Tumor: The tumors that stop growing after a point and do not invade into surrounding tissues are the benign tumors. They are non-malignant and there are negligible chances of recurrence once they are surgically removed.
  • Malignant Tumor: This type of tumors are the most dangerous, as invade into adjoining tissue layers and slowly spread further in distant parts of the body through the bloodstream; a process called metastasis, which is the developmental stage of cancer.

If detected in early stages, in most cases, cancer is treatable and an individual can be completely cured to live a long, healthy life with reduced risk of recurrence. Before we dive in, here's a quick recap of facts as published by the World Cancer Day organising council.




According to recent statistics, there are around 2.5 million of cancer patients in India and it is growing at an alarming rate.Among males, the most common type of cancer is oral / mouth cancer, which, surprisingly, has much lower incidence on a global perspective. This can be attributed to the rampant use of tobacco products and uncontrolled smoking habits among Indian males from a young age.

For females, breast cancer and cervical cancer have most incidences, mostly owing to unhealthy lifestyle and lack of cancer awareness. Cancers of oral cavity and lungs in males and cervix and breast in females account for around 50% of all cancer-related deaths in India.


View article on symptoms and details of most
prevalent in India
by Age group and Gender



According to WHO reports, India has the world’s highest rates of cervical, gall bladder, oraland pharyngeal cancer. Also, India is reportedly among the countries in the world with lowest cancer survival rates.

Specific factors attribute to poor cancer conditions in India which include both medical and social aspects, the primary factor being lack of awareness about cancer in India

  • Belief in unscientific myths: "Cancer is not infectious or always fatal!"

The prevalent idea that cancer is infectious, or that it is always fatal often leads to negligence by the family members of the patient denying him/her of proper, timely cancer treatment. Often, in industrial areas, a large number of people are affected by lung cancer which leads to the belief among less literate persons that cancer is infectious, which unfortunately leads to abandoning of the patients in many cases.

  • Lack of precautionary measures:

Unhealthy smoking and drinking habits, poor lifestyle and diet, diabetes and obesity are widespread among Indians. These contribute to a significant number of cancer-related deaths every year; however, the awareness is inadequate

  • Detection at advanced stages:

Regular cancer-related health check-ups after a certain age (for example, PAP smear/mammography tests among women) are not a common practice in India. This results in ignoring early symptoms and detection at advanced stages when survival chances are significantly low

  • Under-developed cancer treatment facilities:

Cancer treatment in India is not as advanced as compared to other developed countries or even our Asian counterparts like Japan or China. However, the recent developments in cancer research and increasing number of institutions solely dedicated to cancer treatment in India are indeed promising for a better future

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