Cancer in India

Cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths in India and a major public health concern. It is estimated that there are around 1 million new cancer cases every year and as many as 5 lakh deaths occur annually. Around 71% of all cancer deaths in India occur in people 30 to 69 years of age, when adults are very productive. The burden of cancer is expected to further increase due to increase in life expectancy, heavy use of tobacco and other risk factors such as radiation, viruses, etc.

Common Cancers in India are listed below: Head and Neck, Lung, Breast, Cervix, Colon and Rectal, Leukemia and Melanoma. The risk of cancer can be reduced by practicing healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and not smoking. Also, it is a misconception that all cancers are incurable. Current methods of treatment are effective for many cancers. A large number of cancer patients are cured and more patients could be cured if their cancers were diagnosed early and treated promptly.

Cancer Biology

All cancers begin in cells, the body’s basic unit of life. Cancer is caused when the cell circuitry becomes abnormal and the cells grow without control. The end result is a mass of cells, called a tumor. Cancer cells spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. When cancer is found, a doctor will determine what type it is and how fast it is growing. He or she will also determine whether cancer cells have invaded nearby healthy tissue or spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body. Cancers have long been categorized and treated by the anatomic site of origin, e.g. lung, breast, colon etc. Increasingly, oncologists and pathologists are now focusing on the mutations, or alterations, in the genes that likely are thought to drive a cancer. Most cancers harbor a combination of mutated oncogenes and/or tumor suppressors that work in concert to deregulate a single and/or multiple molecular pathways that lead to their genesis, maintenance, and progression and define them by a unique molecular signature. As we understand more about these underlying genetic alterations, new targeted therapies are coming to market that specifically target changes in a patient’s tumor and that may be less toxic and much more effective than traditional first-line treatment regimens.