9.3 lakh cancer deaths in 2019 in India, 2nd highest in Asia: Study

A breast cancer survivor being treated at a hospital in Srinagar. [FPK Photo/ Zainab]

New Delhi: India recorded 1.2 million new cases of cancer and 9,30,000 deaths in 2019, making it the second-highest contributor to the disease burden in Asia, according to a recent study published in The Lancet Regional Health Southeast Asia journal.

The research, conducted by an international team including scholars from the National Institute of Technology Kurukshetra and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Jodhpur, and Bathinda, examined the temporal patterns of 29 cancers in 49 Asian countries from 1990 to 2019, as per PTI report.

China, India, and Japan emerged as the top three countries in Asia concerning the number of new cancer cases and deaths. China led with 4.8 million new cases and 2.7 million deaths, while Japan recorded around 900,000 new cases and 440,000 deaths during 2019.

The study highlighted that cancer has become a significant public health threat in Asia, accounting for 9.4 million new cases and 5.6 million deaths in 2019.

The leading cancer in Asia was tracheal, bronchus, and lung (TBL), contributing to an estimated 1.3 million cases and 1.2 million deaths. This cancer was most prevalent in men and the third most frequent among women.

Cervical cancer ranked second or among the top five cancers in several Asian countries, with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine proving effective in preventing the disease and reducing related deaths.

The top five most frequent cancers in 2019 across Asia included TBL, breast, colon and rectum cancer (CRC), stomach, and non-melanoma skin cancer. Smoking, alcohol consumption, and ambient particulate matter (PM) pollution remained dominant among the 34 risk factors for cancer. The study expressed concern about the rising cancer burden due to increasing air pollution in Asia, particularly in countries like India, Nepal, Qatar, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

The researchers highlighted the impact of smokeless tobacco (SMT) in South Asian countries, such as India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Smokeless tobacco, including products like khaini, gutkha, betel quid, and paan masala, accounted for over 50% of the oral cancer burden in India in 2019.

The study emphasized the need for improved water and sanitation to reduce the transmission of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and, consequently, lower the risk of stomach cancer.

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