The number of Indians diagnosed with cancer has tripled more than three times between 2017 and 2018, according to a new government report. The increase is due to an increase in unhealthy lifestyles as well as better detection.
Of the 65 million patients who visited the NCD (non-communicable disease) state clinics in 2018, 160,000 were treated for common cancer – including cancer of the cervix, oral system and breast. Revealed in the National Health Profile of India in 2019, this figure represents an almost 324 percent increase over the previous year.
The number of people using government facilities has almost doubled from 2017-18, suggesting that cancer detection has improved significantly over the two-year period.
The Indian Ministry of Health attributes the worrying situation to poor diet and tobacco and alcohol use. India is currently at the top of the list of total cancer cases. The proportion of cancer in India in proportion to its population is significantly lower than that of much of the developed world. However, poor data reporting and the scarcity of oncologists in the country mean that many cancers remain undetected.
The report also had some positive news. Ministry of Health found that life expectancy in India increased from 49.7 years in 1970-75 to 68.7 years in 2012-16.
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