As much as 70 per cent of cancer cases in the country are diagnosed when in advanced stages, said Purvish Parekh, Medical Oncologist and Convenor, Indian Cooperative Oncology Network, here on Sunday.
Speaking at a national seminar on the management of cancer organised by the Indian Society of Health Administrators (ISHA), he said that chances of cure become less when such cases are diagnosed in advanced stages.
Stating that 85 per cent of cancer cases are caused due to lifestyle variations, Dr. Parekh said that the focus needs to be on cancer prevention. He emphasised that the 12 Five Year Plan aims in reducing non-communicable diseases such as cancer, hypertension and cardio vascular diseases. “The incidence of cancer can be reduced by avoiding consumption of tobacco and alcohol,” Dr. Parekh added.
Dr. Parekh stated that there was a need to look at trends to reduce the incidence of cancer. “The number of cases of cervical cancer is more in rural areas and cases of breast cancer are high in urban areas. Simple steps such as paying attention to personal hygiene can be the key for reducing the incidence of cervical cancer,” he said. He said that there was a need to understand the economic background of cancer patients. Barely 15 per cent of the people in the country can afford the best treatment for cancer, he said.
The focus needs to be aimed at providing the middle class cost-effective treatment. “But more than half the people do not know when they are going to get their next meal. Even if government schemes help them by providing subsidised treatment, it will not work as it is not a priority for them. So for this category, we have to strive to work on prevention,” he said.
Dr. Parekh said thatthe government has doubled the number of medical seats for specialisation in oncology over the last two years. “It is essential to develop new oncologists as a majority of cancer patients are not treated by oncologists,” he added.
Sita Bhateja, president, ISHA, said that there was a need to make cancer manageable and remove the fear associated with it. She said, “To deal with the psychological effect of depression, there was a need to have support groups.”
Dr. Bhateja mooted the idea of establishing a cancer detection cell in every hospital so that cancer can be detected in the early stages. She said that she would put forward an appeal to the State government to establish such cells across the State.
Some of the other topics discussed were “Managing cancer during treatment and beyond”, “The role of surgical oncology in the management of cancer” and “Quantum magnetic resonance therapy in cancer management”.