India is bearing a big burden of cancer and if the recent reports are to be believed, cancer will be the biggest threat in the next 10-20 years. Among women, the occurence of breast cancer is on the spike with more and more cases being detected every year. Despite regular clinical trials and studies being carried out, it seems like we are still far away from curbing this menace.
We spoke to Dr. Anthony Pais, Clinical Director and Senior Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgery, Cytecare Cancer Hospitals, Bangalore to understand the issue.
Is it true that Indians are more prone to cancer than their western counterparts?
While it is true that certain cancers are more common in India than in the western countries, it is a misconception that Indians are more prone to cancer. Every country has its own unique healthcare challenges. For India, oral, head and neck and cervical cancers pose the biggest problems. The causes are many – from the widespread use of betel quid and tobacco to the high incidence of cervical human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and poor hygiene standards, especially among the lower socioeconomic strata of society.
In many cases, the issue is far more complex. For instance, when it comes to breast cancer, Indian women are not more prone than their western counterparts. However, the average age of breast cancer patients in India is 47-49 years – which is almost a decade earlier than for most women in the west. Research shows that our biology is different, causing some cancers at a younger age and typically more aggressive. This often makes timely diagnosis and treatment a greater concern.