SRINAGAR: To avoid data duplication that is said to have created confusion about the occurrence of cancers in Kashmir Valley, the Regional Cancer Centre at SK Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) is all set to start the population-based registration of patients.
The new system will replace the existed hospital–based data collection method in which one patient may be registered in more than one hospital he visits.
Under the population-based system, every patient will be provided a unique identification number, and there shall be no need to register the same patient in different hospitals.
Head of RCC SKIMS, Dr Lone Mohammad Maqbool, said, “The identification number will ensure that every patient is registered just once. And it shall help us in knowing the exact number of cancer-affected people in Kashmir.”
In February, the government asked the RCC to go ahead with the population-based cancer registration. And it is so far the only department to get the approval.
“We will start the process soon after the MoU reaches us. We will conduct door-to-door surveys to find out the prevalence of disease in our society,” Dr Maqbool said.
A population-based survey has never been conducted in Kashmir, while the figures about the prevalence of cancers in Kashmir have been based on the data maintained by various hospitals.
“The problem with the hospital-based study is that it is limited; we don’t know the status beyond a particular hospital. The actual prevalence of the disease in Kashmir may be more or less than what the existing figures suggest. We can only know the reality once we carry out this population-based survey,” Dr Nazir Ahmad Khan, a professor associated with the RCC, said.
The prevalence of cancer started getting discussed in Kashmir only after 2007, when the SKIMS’ Radiation Oncology department got the status of RCC. Prior to that, there was no proper system of registering the patients.
“Before 2007, cancer patients were being treated like any other patients. Those visiting the Clinical Haematology and Medical Oncology department at SKIMS were not registered. It was only our department—Radiation Oncology—that kept a proper record of the patients,” Dr Maqbool said.
“With RCC coming into being, it became necessary for every department at SKIMS to register their cancer patients with us. The better system of data collection gave an impression that the prevalence of cancers in Kashmir was increasing. Yes, the number of cancer patients has increased, but it was never alarming,” he said.
At the international level, about 300 new cancer patients are detected per one lakh people every year. In India, the average is 100 patients per one lakh people. And in Kashmir, the number, as per the figures maintained so far, is just 70.
“Up to 2015, we have registered 4,500 cancer patients detected in the population of 70 lakh people. As per the existing data, the increase is just 10-15 per cent cases, but the cases have certainly not doubled. Once we start the population-based survey, our data will be more accurate,” Dr Maqbool said.