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Year 2011

ICMR Wants Govt To Declare Cancer a Notifiable Disease

Times of India
10 November 2011
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi India

India recorded 9.8 lakh new cases of cancer last year, an increase of about 80,000 cases as compared to 2009.

The worrying trend was discussed at the annual meeting of the National Cancer Registry Programme in Guwahati last week, in which top cancer specialists from across the country, Union health ministry officials and experts from the Indian Council of Medical Research took part. The figure was reached after tabulating results from over 27 cancer registries, but the ministry is still to make the findings public.

ICMR Wants Govt To Declare Cancer a Notifiable Disease

The ICMR, concerned about the rising numbers, has urged the Union health ministry to make cancer a “notifiable disease”. Currently, highly infectious diseases like plague, polio, H5N1 (bird flu) and H1N1 (swine flu) figure on the list. Cancer may become the first non–communicable disease to be bracketed in the category.

Sources in the ministry told TOI that Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was seriously considering the proposal. “If cancer is made notifiable, like many other Western countries, every case will have to be reported and no cases can be left uncared for. Now, doctors sometimes don’t look at a patient, citing existing burden. That can’t happen if it is made notifiable. We will also know exactly how many new cases are affecting India. I think the 9.8 lakh new cases is just a fraction of the actual burden,” Dr G KRath, head of the department of oncology at the All–India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said. “We have noticed some important changes in the cancer pattern. In the northeastern states, stomach, lung and oesophagus cancers are common. In villages, breast cancer rates are only onefourth of those in cities. However, in cities like Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore, breast cancer tops the list.”

About 50 top scientists who are part of the scientific advisory body of the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (Bangalore), including professor Rath, director of Tata Memorial Hospital Dr R A Badwe and ICMR director–general Dr V M Katoch, feel cancer should be made notifiable.

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