National Cancer Registry Programme of ICMR

As the World Cancer Day is being observed on Saturday, a look at the climbing graph of cancer incidence and mortality linked to cancer in Thiruvananthapuram taluk gives much cause for public concern.

The first five-year (2005-09) report of the Population-Based Cancer Registry for Thiruvananthapuram taluk at the Regional Cancer Centre shows that the average annual incidence of cancer is 129.3 (per 1,00,000 population) for men and 125.5 for women.

The registry was established under the National Cancer Registry Programme of the Indian Council for Medical Research in 2006 to assess the magnitude and pattern of cancer incidence and mortality rates.

The incidence indicates the number of new cancers occurring in the population every year.

The rate of new cases went up from 110.4 in 2005 to a whopping 132 in 2009 in men while in women, it jumped from 102.8 in 2005 to 119.2 in 2009.

The average annual cancer mortality rate for men is 58 (per 1,00,000), while for women, it is 37.1.

Again, the cancer mortality rate also shows a steep climb between 2005 and 2009. The mortality rate for men went up from 39 in 2005 to 61 in 2009. The mortality rate for women shot up from 23.7 to 36 during the same period.

During the five-year period, 7,411 persons were diagnosed with cancers in the taluk, out of which 2,752 died. Childhood cancers accounted for 1.8 per cent of all the cancers. The average age-at-diagnosis was 60 years in males and 55 years in females.

The registry's data projects that one in seven men and one in nine women have the lifetime risk of developing cancer. Among men, lung was the leading cancer site (12 per cent), followed by prostate (5.8 per cent), mouth (5.5 per cent), and tongue and larynx (4.9 per cent each). Among women, 30 per cent of the cancers were of the breast. The second-most afflicted area was cervix (7.8 per cent), followed by thyroid (7.1 per cent), and ovary (5.8 per cent).

Tobacco-related cancers accounted for 39 per cent of all cancers in males and 11.1 per cent in females, indicating yet again that tobacco ban is the single-most public health intervention which can drastically bring down cancer incidence.

“This data of the PBCR is an under-estimation because it relates only to cancer cases which were reported at the Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram and the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC). The actual figures could present a more bleak picture because a lot of private sector hospitals in the city have oncolology units now, where people from the affluent sections are seeking treatment,” according to Eleyamma Mathew, Head, Cancer Epidemiology Division, RCC. The PCRB's 2005-2009 report would be updated as the registry was in the process of collecting data from private sector from 2006 onwards. The Health Department had recently directed all private sector oncology hospitals to provide the necessary data for registry purpose.

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