Two-thirds of female cancer patients in India from low socio-economic class; unhealthy habits primary reason

New Delhi: Cancer is one of the most terrifying diseases that mankind has to deal with, since it affects not just the patient, but the people connected to them as well.

Perhaps, the very thought of being diagnosed with cancer can be devastating as it is an event that goes hand-in-hand with fear and dread upon detection of the disease, followed by rounds of chemotherapy and treatments.

While not every diagnosis results in termination of the victim, enough of them do so, mainly, because of lack of awareness of cancer, which leads to delay in detection of the disease.

Even when diagnosed and treated early, cancer still has a reasonable chance to kill the patient.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.

In India, women contribute nearly 30 percent of the cancer burden and as per a new statement released by doctors, nearly two-thirds of them are from the low socio-economic background.

According to the them, the habit of tobacco consumption, smoking bidis and unhealthy habits are the prime causes behind the rise in various types of cancer among the women from lower strata of the society.

Incidence of oral, lung, stomach, cervical and oesophageal cancer are most common among these women.

Currently, cancer accounts for second-highest mortality rate in India, which alone contributes 50 percent of it in the world.

“Consumption of tobacco has seriously hit the women in recent years. They are not just causing cancers to themselves but also affecting fertility and even delayed conception,” said P.K. Malhotra, Senior Consultant, International Medicine at city-based Saroj Super Specialty Hospital.

Recent surveys have found that 6,000 children under the age of 14 years get addicted to tobacco every day, including girls.

Malhotra said that various medical studies had also proved that female smokers in India had lifespan reduced by 10 years in comparison to non-smokers.

Out of 12.5 lakh (1.25 million) new cancer patients each year in India, over seven lakh are women.

Piyush Rawat, associated with Oncology research at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said the major factors contributing to deteriorating cancer levels among the patients were lack of awareness and unavailability of resources, due to which they would know about the disease many a time only at the last stage.

“It is strictly advised for the women to stop smoking and chewing tobacco to eradicate the epidemic and contribute to India’s development. Even quitting the tobacco – the biggest factor for cancer – the patients can have 90 percent avoidance in cancer and other diseases,” said Rawat.

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