144 percent rise in cancer cases in Valley in a decade

It is an epidemic, says SKIMS expert

Zehru Nissa
Srinagar, Publish Date: May 20 2018 10:51PM | Updated Date: May 20 2018 10:51PM
144 percent rise in cancer cases in Valley in a decadeRepresentational Pic

A cancer expert at Kashmir’s premier medical institution has described a 144-percent rise in the number of cancer cases in Kashmir during the past decade as an “epidemic”.

For the first time, the data on cancer holistically compiled by DrSanaullahKuchay, head department of radiation oncology at the SMHS Hospital, reveals 2164 cancer patients had been registered in Kashmir in 2007—1977 with Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) and 187 with the SMHS Hospital.

In 2017, 5393 cases were registered with these two hospitals (4796 with SKIMS alone), a 144-percent rise in the decade.

The worrying fact is that from 1984 onwards, when the SKIMS started its radiotherapy services, 5000 patients were registered with the institute in seven years. But more than 5000 cancer patients were registered in 2017 alone.

Doctors say the turn for the worse took place in 2004.

“Data available at the SKIMS and SMHS show the Valley has already entered into an epidemic like situation on cancer prevalence in the past 14 years,” DrKuchay told Greater Kashmir, attributing to the rise to lack of awareness and diagnostic technologies. 

“Have we upgraded cancer diagnostics infrastructure in the past one decade? How serious are we about creating awareness. These are the questions which need to be discussed and answered?” he said.

Only the SKIMS and SMHS hospitals have diagnosis and treatment facilities and cater to the entire population of about 75 lakh people in the Valley.

More than 90 percent of cancer patients are registered at the SKIMS. Head department of radiation oncology at the SKIMS Dr Mohammad Maqbool Dar said there was a “significant rise” in the number of cancer cases but wouldn’t call it an “epidemic”.

The data clearly shows that cases are rising by around 10 percent each year, he said.

“In the past eight years alone cancer cases have risen by 85 percent,” he said, while holding lifestyle changes of Kashmiris as reason for the rise in the cases.

The data about cancer cases is available from 1981, the year in which the population of Kashmir was 37 lakh. That year only 109 cases of cancer were recorded in Kashmir, all of them at the SMHS Hospital.

In 2005, just over 1700 cancer patients were diagnosed with cancer in Kashmir. In 2006, the number rose to over 2000 and continued to increase steeply, crossing 4000 mark in 2015 for the first time.

 

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