Cancer rising among India’s youth

New Delhi: More youngsters are developing cancer in India, doctors said at a conference here Thursday. However, most of those affected by the disease remain ignorant about it, which leads to delays in diagnosis and treatment, they said.

“We are seeing more cases of cancer among teenagers and young adults. However, not much attention is being paid to it,” said Dr. G. K. Rath, director of the Dr. B.R.A. Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital at All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS).

He said the cancer in youngsters was curable but timely diagnosis remained a problem.

Rath was speaking at a conference on cancer ahead of a workshop on the disease at the Asian Institute of Medical Science in Faridabad April 21-22.

Of the 1 million cancer cases reported in India every year, 150,000 of the patients were aged between 15 and 35, said the doctors.

“Cancer screening is usually not suggested before 35 years. However, we need to see if the age limit needs to be brought down,” Dr. Prakash G. Chitalkar, a senior consultant and head of the medical and pediatric oncology department at the Asian Institute of Medical Science, said at the conference.

Few first or second stage cancer patients come to doctors due to lack of awareness, Dr. N.K. Pandey, chairman and managing director of Asian Institute of Medical Science, said. “However, in Kerala, which has high literacy, more patients in the initial stages come to doctors. This shows that awareness makes a difference.”

“Tobacco, alcohol, hectic lifestyle and lack of exercise are behind the increase in cancer cases,” said Dr. N.K. Pandey, chairman and managing director of Asian Institute of Medical Science. “Also, increased usage of insecticides and pesticides, food preservatives, pollution and food adulteration have pushed up the cancer cases.”


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