Cancer treatment in India on a par with global standards, says expert

Published - October 08, 2022 08:10 am IST - MADURAI

Anil K. D’Cruz

Anil K. D’Cruz | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

India stands on a par with the West in advancements in cancer treatment and the future looks “promising,” said Anil K. D’Cruz, the first Indian to be directly elected as president of Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) for 2020-2022.

Speaking toThe Hindu, he said the three areas of focus for UICC were: advocacy, convening, and capacity building. “Advocating healthcare movements such as pushing for HPV vaccination (against cervical cancer) for young girls, and campaigning against electronic cigarettes by organising conferences such as World Cancer Congress and World Cancer Leaders' Summit. The focus is on enabling organisations and individuals through fellowships and training to help bridge the gap in healthcare facilities,” he said.

On UICC’s role in India, Dr. D’Cruz, who is also the Director of Oncology Services, Apollo Cancer Centre, said Indian doctors and researchers are the largest beneficiaries of UICC’s capacity-building initiatives. “In fact, Kochi is one of the cities registered for the City Cancer Challenge (C/Can), a city-based initiative of UICC that aims to support cities and partners to improve access to equitable and quality cancer care. The local administration along with its stakeholders can become a member to realise this,” he said.

Common types

The most common types of cancers globally were lung, breast and prostate whereas mouth, tongue, lung, breast and cervical cancers were most prevalent in India.

“Use of tobacco as cigarettes is high in the West, leading to lung cancer, while chewing tobacco in India results in mouth and throat cancer. Breast cancer can be traced to lifestyle changes, long work hours among other factors. Cervical cancer falls next in line, but thanks to better hygiene practices and increasing availability of screening for women,” he said.

On symptoms that people should not neglect with regard to cancer in the head and neck regions – his field of expertise for 30 years – he said red and white patches in the mouth indicated premalignant stages of cancer. Other warning signs were growth of ulcer and loosening or falling of teeth.

The government must evolve a diagonal approach to healthcare where better equipment and facilities were provided at Primary Health Centres for early diagnosis even while improving cancer treatment centres at the regional level, Dr. D’Cruz said.

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