35,623 people in J&K died of cancer between 2018 and 2022

 Reasons for the sudden increase in cancer cases in J&K need urgent investigation

Jammu: Cancer has grown disproportionately over the last decade.According to the latest report released by the Union Health Ministry, a total of 35,623 people in J&K died of cancer between 2018 and 2022. 

The data over the last decade shows a rising graph of the cancer cases. Around  3,075 cancer cases were reported in 2011, 3,288 in 2012, 3,157 in 2013, 3,940 in 2014 and 4,257 in 2015.  The figures since have only grown bigger and paint a grim picture, said Dr Naresh Purohit, Advisor - National Cancer Control Programme.

Sharing his concern on the alarming rise of cancer cases in the valley Noted Epidemiologist Dr Purohit told Vibrant News here that decades after the diagnosis and treatment of cancer was developed, Kashmir is still far away from treating the terminal disease in an effective way and  this is because of lack of infrastructure, both in private and public sector hospitals.

Renowned Preventive Oncology expert averred that the recovery rate of cancer is low in J&K because the diagnosis happens at a later stage of cancer, when the treatment remains mostly ineffective. 

He revealed that 80 percent of cancers are detected at late stages.

“If the diagnosis of cancer happens at the earlier stage, the recovery rate gets better. Here patients come when they are mostly at the third stage of the cancer. They should have been diagnosed earlier, which is possible only when there is preventive oncology. It is at this stage when the disease can be found and treated. But that does not happen in Kashmir,” he added.

He pointed out that thyroid, breast, lung, stomach and colorectal cancers are   common among Kashmiris.

He stated that in India there is a significant rise in cancer cases due to globalization, growing economy, aging population and changing lifestyle.

He emphasised that it is imperative for the nation to embrace technology-driven medical techniques to prevent health catastrophes in an effective manner. Cancer vaccines for prevention and treatment, expansion of artificial intelligence and data digital technology, and cancer diagnosis from liquid biopsies are among the six trends that will reshape cancer care in this century.

"Nevertheless advances in molecular cell biology and genetics in the recent past have made the disease far less intractable than the past. Early tumour detection with non-invasive imaging such as CT, MRI and PET scans has helped in discriminating between aggressive and non-malignant tumours."he added.

He categorically said that prioritising the quality of cancer care in Kashmir and making it more accessible and affordable is the need of the hour. In addition the UT government should come forward in allocating generous resources for the treatment.

He further said that there is an urgent need to investigate the reasons for the sudden increase in the number of cancers in the UT. People need to know as to what has changed in Kashmir that has led to the spread of cancer.