A total of 11.57 lakh cancer cases was reported in India this year, a 15.7 percent increase over the 10 lakh cases reported in 2012, Ravi Mehrotra, director of Indian Council of Medical Research’s National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (ICMR-NICPR) said while releasing the India-specific data from Global Cancer Observatory (Globocan), 2018.

Globocan is an interactive web-based platform presenting global cancer statistics to inform cancer control and research. The Globocan 2018 database, published recently by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), includes estimates of cancer incidence and mortality across 185 countries for 36 types of cancers.

Dr. Mehrotra said there was a 12.1 percent increase in the number of cancer-related deaths – while seven lakh people died due to cancer in 2012, 7,84,821 such cases were reported in 2018. He said, the report also flags a concern over increasing number of the lips and oral cavity cancer, which has seen a 114.2 percent spike since 2012.

Breast cancer cases also saw a 10.7 percent rise, from 1.45 lakh cases in 2012 to 1.62 lakh in 2018.

The only good news is a 21.2 percent fall in the number of cervical cancer cases. From 1.23 lakh cervical cancer cases in 2012, the GLOBOCAN data shows that there were 96,922 cervical cancer cases in 2018.

Prof Balram Bhargava, director general of ICMR, said smokeless tobacco posed a big challenge in the country. “This is the first time anywhere in the world that a journal has published a special supplement on smokeless tobacco,” he said, adding that the problem was seen largely across 13 states.

A global public health menace, smokeless tobacco (SLT) is being consumed by a whopping 360 million people across 140 countries in the world and causes more than 650,000 deaths globally. Of this, almost 200 million people use SLT in India, which kills about 3,50,000 Indians every year.

Given the lack of research on SLT in India – India’s contribution to global SLT literature is at a meager 11.7% of all publications – the NICPR has collaborated with the Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR) to publish a special issue dedicated to SLT control. Various research papers in this special issue of IJMR have highlighted adverse health consequences of SLT use, including increased risk of oral cancer and potentially malignant diseases, oesophageal and pancreatic cancer as well as heart disease and stroke.

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