Delhi February 12, 2024: At least 50% of lung cancer cases in India occur in non-smokers, said the doctors during the two-day IO-CON2024 advances in Cancer Care scientific conference on Saturday in Delhi.
The oncologists emphasised that 50% of lung cancer cases in India are caused by declining air quality, aside from lifestyle factors. It is concerning that in some circumstances, the patient has never smoked and arrives at the doctor’s office in a more advanced state. Because tobacco smoking is so pervasive in India, head and neck cancer is quite common among men there, accounting for 30% of all cancer cases. On the other hand, breast cancer is most common among women with every eighth woman in India suffering with breast cancer.
“Of the almost 14 lakh new cancer cases diagnosed in India every year, more than 60% get diagnosed in advanced stages which underscores the need for an enhancing the awareness and diagnosis,” stated Dr. Shubham Garg, Director of Surgical Oncology, IOCI, Fortis Hospital, Noida.
Dr Anita Malik, Senior Consultant and Clinical Lead Radiation Oncology at IOCI said, “In India, there are more than 640 radiation therapy equipment, but because the country is now experiencing a 5-7% annual growth in cancer cases, the number of machines needs to be scaled up 1400 as per WHO. The infrastructure costs associated with any oncology institution exceed Rs 100 crore, and the cost of radiation devices is at least Rs 25 crore. This calls for a sufficient public-private cooperation to make the treatment accessible to the greatest number of people, which is still limited to a set of people.”
Dr PK Sharma, Executive Director, International Oncology Cancer Institute said, “The International Oncology Cancer Institute’s 15 years of providing cancer care was celebrated by organising IO-CON2024. The organisation has made progress in establishing oncology centres in cities such as Kanpur, Saharanpur, Indore, Aurangabad, Jodhpur, Greater Noida, and Mumbai.”
Dr. Madhur Garg, the Clinical Director of Radiation Oncology at Montefiore Medical Center in the United States, emphasizes the importance of expanding oncology services in tier two cities in India. He advocates for a strong public-private partnership to achieve this goal. Dr. Garg points out that doctors are willing to serve in tier two cities, provided there is adequate infrastructure in place to support cancer treatment services.
He also acknowledges the positive impact of the Ayushman Bharat health coverage provided by the Government of India. This health coverage initiative offers financial assistance for cancer treatment, which is expected to improve the accessibility of testing and treatment processes for people living in smaller towns across the country.
“Molecular testing, often performed alongside biopsies, helps identify specific genetic mutations or alterations present in cancer cells. Molecular testing provides insights into the genetic makeup of tumors, allowing oncologists to select targeted therapies that are more likely to be effective against specific molecular targets. In addition, for a holistic treatment, personalized medicine in oncology leverages molecular testing and comprehensive genomic profiling to develop individualized treatment strategies that consider the unique genetic, molecular, and environmental factors influencing each patient’s cancer. This approach holds great promise for improving treatment outcomes and enhancing the quality of life for individuals diagnosed with cancer.
Dr Rajat Bajaj, Program Director, IOCI said, “The future of cancer treatment is every optimistic, but the key lies in the timely detection which requires more people friendly approach at the oncology centres. The medical services must reach in smaller cities where the cooperation of government and the private sector I healthcare will make a difference and save more lives.”
During the event on advances in cancer care oncologists from IOCI including Dr Jalaj Baxi, Dr Kabir Rehmani and Dr Rakesh Ojha addressed a panel discussion on future of cancer care in India.