The incidence of cancer in the rural areas in the country is much lower when compared to towns and cities, triggering an interest among experts to study the causes for the phenomenon.
While the incidence is 45 per one lakh a year in the rural areas, it is as high as 95-100 per lakh a year in major cities and 70 per lakh a year in midsized towns, according to Rajendra Badwe, Director Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai.
Interacting with media persons along with well-known United States-based oncologist Nori Dattatreyudu at the end of a four-day ‘Global Oncology Summit’ here on Sunday, he said the incidence of breast cancer in the rural places was constant for the past many years and was 8 per lakh while it was around 35 per lakh in urban areas.
He said there were 29 cancer registries in the country and the data emerging from them showed that the numbers remained constant in the rural areas. It would be studied whether something could be borrowed from the rural to urban areas where the incidence was rising, he added.
Dr. Badwe said it was proposed to ensure uniform treatment protocol under a National Cancer Grid. As many as 27 medical institutions across the country were part of the grid. Besides formulating guidelines for uniform treatment protocol based on the infrastructure, the institutions in the grid would also collaborate to create awareness on cancer prevention and research. He said that 40 per cent of cancers were linked to tobacco, 15 per cent each to personal hygiene and obesity. These could be prevented by creating awareness.
Dr. Badwe and Dr. Dattatreyudu emphasised the need for correcting the manpower deficiency in the country. While there were 1,200 oncologists for a population of 1.2 billion in India, there were 20,000 oncologists in the United States for a population of over 300 million. Dr. Badwe said there was a requirement of an additional 300 oncologists and currently 50-75 were being added per year. However, the Medical Council of India (MCI) was seized of the issue and taking steps to see that the target was reached in the coming years.
Meanwhile, Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital and Research Institute and Tata Memorial Centre signed a Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration in various areas, including training, education and research.