Only 36% cancer patients in India receive treatment

Most forms of cancer are curable, but only four out of 10 cancer patients across India receive any form of treatment, shows a survey.

Most forms of cancer are curable, but only four out of 10 cancer patients across India receive any form of treatment, shows a survey .

The statistics presented by senior oncologist Dr V Shanta of Adyar Cancer Institute at a symposium on women’s oncology organised by Apollo Hospitals on Monday turned out to be a reality check for doctors and scientists on cost and access to cancer treatment.

In 2015, the total number of cancer cases was projected to be 1.1 million, and the estimated number of cancer patients who received some for treatment, including palliative care, was 3.96 lakh (36%). “The gap is unacceptable. We need to pause and ponder on our priorities,” Dr Shanta said in her first public speech after she won the Padma Vibushan in January. Personalised cancer treatment – tailor made treatment -may be the future, but they would be of no use if patients can’t afford them, she said.

The estimated burden of cancer in 2015 was 1,147,000, of which 599,000 were women. Although the disease is the second most common cause of death in the country, the cumulative risk of getting cancer in one’s lifetime (from birth to reaching 74 years of age) – is 1 in 13 and it dwindles to one in 7-10 among women. At least 60% of cancers are detected at an advanced stage.

State health secretary J Radhakrishnan said although Tamil Nadu leads the country in most healthcare services, the state is in need of solutions to make treatment accessible and affordable.

Apollo Hospitals chairman Dr Prathap C Reddy said that his hospital should adopt more than 100 villages to prevent cancer and promote health.

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