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Home News and Update Year 2009 Breast Cancer Cases Surge as Cervical Dips

Breast Cancer Cases Surge as Cervical Dips

Times of India
6 August 2009
New Delhi, India
By Kounteya Sinha

Cases Of Former Grew Two–Fold, Latter Fell By 50% In 24 Years
First, the good news. Cases of cervical cancer, one of India’s worst lady killers, have started to plummet in the country. Now, the bad news. Breast cancer cases have started to rocket.

A landmark analysis of cancer cases in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore between 1982–2005 by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has found that while cervical cancer cases dipped, in some cases by almost 50%, breast cancer cases doubled.

Interestingly, these trends, contained in the ICMR’s yetto–be–released report ‘Time Trends in Cancer Incidence Rates (1982–2005)’, were universal in all four cities.

In case of cervical cancer, this is how the cases have dropped: In 1982, Bangalore reported 32.4 new cases of cervical cancer in women per 1,00,000 population every year. The number dipped to 27.2 in 1991, 17 in 2001 and 18.2 in 2005.

Delhi, whose records are available from 1988, saw 25.9 new cases of cervical cancer per lakh population the same year. It then dipped to 19.1 in 1998 and then to 18.9 in 2005.

Mumbai, which recorded 17.9 new cases of cervical cancer per lakh population in 1982, recorded 12.7 new cases in 2005.

Chennai recorded a fall of almost 50% in cases of cervical cancer in this period of 24 years. In 1982, Chennai saw 41 new women for every lakh of the population get cancer of the cervix. Nearly a decade later, in 1991, Chennai’s figure of new cases dipped to 33.4. In 2005, new cases in the city fell further to 22 per 1,00,000 population.

Caused by the Human Papiloma Virus (HPV), cervical cancer is often called the poor woman’s disease. It was earlier believed that cervical cancer was most common in India with more than 1.3 lakh new cases reported each year and 74,000 women dying annually from the disease.

Meanwhile, breast cancer cases shot up across the four cities studied. While Bangalore saw breast cancer cases more than double—15.8 in 1982 to 32.2 in 2005—Chennai recorded 33.5 new cases of breast cancer in 2005 against 18.4 in 1982.

Delhi recorded 24.8 new cases of breast cancer a year per lakh which rose to 32.2 in 2005. Mumbai recorded 20.8 new cases in 1982 which increased by almost 10% in 2005.

‘India’s breast cancer rate lower than West’s’
Breast Cancer Cases Surge as Cervical Dips
Cases of cervix cancer are going down in India and experts attribute it to late marriage and fewer children. ICMR director general and secretary of the department of health research Dr V M Katoch told TOI, “The decline in cases of cancer cervix has been seen across all cancer registries. Factors like late age of marriage and fewer children could be responsible for the decline.”

Chief of medical oncology at AIIMS and head of the Delhi Cancer Registry Dr Vinod Raina told TOI, “Increasing number of women are now delivering in institutions which has greatly improved their personal hygiene. Women now marry late and give birth to fewer children, all of which have led to a dip in cervical cancer cases.” Ironically, these are the same factors, according to Dr Raina, which has increased breast cancer rates in India. “A Western lifestyle, increased consumption of fat products, obesity, late marriages, delayed child bearing and fewer children being conceived leading to reduced breastfeeding and use of some contraceptives are believed to be behind this increased risk of breast cancer. This cancer is also inevitable with an ageing population,” he added. Dr Raina, however, was quick to say that the breast cancer rate in India was much lower than that in the West which records around 100 new cases per 100,000 population every year. According to Dr Katoch, this report depicts the changes in the incidence rates of cancer and is the first for any chronic disease in India.

Certain anatomical sites of cancer have shown a significantly steady increase across all registries, breast cancer being one of them.

“This data will now help galvanise India’s health system and tell us how we can improve diagnostic capabilities and specialists in some types of cancer worst affecting Indians,” Dr Katoch said.

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