Cancer diagnosis and treatment needs focus in J&K

Cancer diagnosis and treatment needs focus in J&K
Representational PhotoFile/ GK

Every year, November 7 is observed as National Cancer Awareness Day in India, in a bid to give a fillip to awareness about cancer prevention and the need for its early detection.

Cancers are rising globally. However, there is a great disparity in the awareness and access to diagnostic and treatment facilities, affecting the overall mortality and morbidity of its various types. The quality of life for the survivors would depend much on the palliative and rehabilitative infrastructure. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), there will be an estimated 12 per cent rise in cancer cases in India in the next five years.

J&K fares poorly on many of these fronts. The numerous programs for early detection of cancer in Kashmir have failed to take off. The National Program for Early Detection of Cancers has been a non-starter for years now. The peripheral Health care system has no program and apparently no action plan to help in early diagnosis. Simple Mammography, which could help in timely diagnosis of breast cancer is a far-fetched thing. In a few places in Srinagar, where it is available, there hardly is a female technician to make the test more acceptable and up-takable.

Same is the case with a scan as simple as a USG. In the oat few years, equipment worth multi crore has been procured for various scans, including CT Scans. However, across hospitals, these equipment are either unused or under used due to dearth of manpower.

Cancer detection is not a highly advanced procedure. A simple test, a basic scan, and a vigilant doctor can help in timely diagnosis and timely treatment. Yet, with our over stretched resources due to manpower mismanagement, patients in Kashmir continue to get a raw deal in hospitals, their hours of waiting ending in minutes or sometimes seconds of consultation.

The various projects for cancer treatment have failed to materialize yet, be it Tertiary Care Cancer Centers or State Cancer Institute. The queues for surgeries, the months of waiting time, the scores of inefficiencies are also hurdles.

India has been battling the high incidence of malignancies for a long time, many of these rooted in poverty and abuse of tobacco. Many young ones, and even children have been fighting the cancers and many lose battles before they get a chance to survive. Old age and longer life expectancy is a major contributor to the overall cancer incidence.

With older bodies the natural defects and discrepancies in our systems build up and the we accumulate more of these defects in the genes, considerably increasing the risk of cancer. Breast Cancer is the top cancer in Kashmir among females with 975 patients registered in two years.

In March 2018, Indian Council of Medical Research had said in a report that around 22594 people died of cancer from 2014 to 2016 in J&K, which means 20 people lose battle to malignancy every day. Across board doctors believe that most cancers are detected in late stages in Kashmir, depleting chances of survival.

The tobacco related cancers still form the bulk of cancers in India, and in J&K as well. According to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, “the risk factors of the major non-communicable diseases (Diabetes Mellitus, Cardiovascular Diseases, Diabetes, and many types of Cancer) are tobacco, dietary habits, inadequate physical activity and alcohol consumption. This offers the prospect for integrated primary prevention strategies”.

The ministry says that more than 75 percent of cancers in India present in advanced stages and palliative care and pain relief are essential to provide good quality life for these patients. No such set-up has been announced yet in J&K. We need to address these shortfalls for a better management of lives, riddled by malignancies – of the patients’ and their families.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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