Cancer cases increasing alarmingly in Valley, warns medico

Jammu: Cautioning that the incidence of Cancer is showing an upward trend in Kashmir, a Jammu based Oncologist on Saturday said that the dreaded disease is alarmingly spreading its tentacles across the Valley.

“Cancer is on the rise in Kashmir. Data released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) shows that till August this year, 16,480 patients with malignancies have been registered compared to 11,815 cases in 2014,” said Dr Nadeem Shoket, Medical Oncologist, Government Medical College (GMC) , Jammu during a press conference in Jammu.

“J & K reports cancers of the lung, head and neck and cancer of mouth. The factors behind it are tobacco consumption, sedentary lifestyle, fatty diet, TB, Hepatitis B and HIV,” said Dr Nadeem.

He said that most of human beings are susceptible to 200 variety of cancers. 15 percent of cancers are hereditary. Most of the cancers are man-made and that there is no miracle cure for any form of cancer, he added.

He said that in India, over 10-lakh new cases of cancer are diagnosed every year. However, due to late diagnosis, over 7-lakh people die from the disease each year.

Projections by ICMR show that India is likely to have over 17.3 lakh new cases of cancer and over 8.8 lakh deaths due to the disease by 2020. In India, Cancer is the second biggest killer.

Dr Nadeem who recently joined the Department of Medical Oncology, is the first Medical Oncologist appointed in GMC.

“J&K state has an estimated number of cancer patients (prevalence) of  29841, 30855, 31899  for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively. Similarly, the estimated number of cancer patient’s deaths (mortality) for the year 2012, 2013 and 2014 were 4863, 5028, 5198 respectively,” he said.

He said that unless urgent action is taken to raise awareness about the disease and to develop practical strategies to address the menace, the disease is projected to increase premature cancer deaths every year.

“Ironically , people don’t want to talk openly about the disease. If they have cancer, they get silent. Persistent cough for 2-week and more without any additional symptom such as fever is a potential sign of cancer and patients should be tested for cancer markers,” remarked Dr Nadeem.

“Persistent cough is in majority of cases taken as a potential sign for TB, lung disease and are treated accordingly. It has been found that two out of 10 patients suffer persistent cough because of cancer,” he added.

“Cancer is curable if detected in early stages. Now even at later stages patient can hope for survival for long. Advancement in medical sciences has now made it possible to manage cancer through chronic treatment and can provide longer life of upto 2-3 years for terminal patients also,” Dr Nadeem further added.

He said that many cancer incidences can be prevented.

“Preventive measure include quitting tobacco, adopting an active lifestyle and limiting the  alcohol intake can prove to be helpful,” he said.

Dr. Nadeem also advised people to avoid taking burnt grilled food as it contains chemical nitrosamines which are carcinogenic in nature.

Pertinently, patients suffering from the disease in Kashmir Valley have to opt for seeking treatment outside the state.

The lone cancer institute—Regional Cancer Center (RCC) at SK Institute of Medical Sciences at Soura offers minimal services to the patients and the dearth of staff too hinders their work. 

As per the records available at the RCC, 4438 new cancer patients were registered at the centre in 2104-2015. This is a jump from 3940—the number of patients registered between January-December 2014.

In 2011, just over 3000 cancer patients were registered at the RCC.

This growing figure of cancer prevalence in Kashmir however doesn’t seem to move the government, according to medicos minimal facilities in terms of staff and infrastructure have been left unattended over the years.

The RCC remains the only cancer center in Kashmir despite the government declaring the Kashmir Nursing Home at Gupkar as a Cancer Center in addition to many other ‘Oncology departments’ at GMC Srinagar.

The grossly-inadequate infrastructure at RCC was supposed to be augmented and a State Cancer Institute under the Union Government funded National Program for Prevention and Control of Cancer Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Stroke (NPCDCS) was also to be established. But its construction is in the initial stages and given the pace of work, will take some more years to be operational.

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