Population-based Cancer Registry reveals contours of cancers in Kashmir

GI, lung, breast cancers at top Post-pandemic data collection to resume
Representational Photo
Representational PhotoFile/ GK

Srinagar: Even as the pandemic put spanners into the comprehensive data collection exercise under Kashmir’s first Population-based Cancer Registry (PbCR), the two-year data under the project reveals many unknown facts about how various cancers afflict the region.

In 2017, 507 lung cancer patients were registered at Regional Cancer Center SKIMS Soura, the only Institute to have a hospital based cancer registry. Lung Cancer, as per this registry, was at the top among all cancers that year, replacing esophageal cancer, which was recorded as afflicting the highest number of patients prior to this. However, since 2018, when the registration of cancers was expanded and taken into the community, Lung cancer was pushed to number three.

As per PbCR and Hospital-based Cancer Registry (HbCR) combined together, 2098 patients with cancers of stomach and stomach junction were recorded in 2018 and 2019 together. This was the highest for any cancer with both genders together. It was followed by another gastro-intestinal (GI) tract malignancy – Esophagus Cancer with 966 patients.

Lung Cancer, which is the top cancer in many parts of India, especially those with high prevalence of Tobacco abuse, is at number three in Kashmir if cancers of upper GI tract are combined.

Prof Fir Afroz from department of radiation Oncology at SKIMS Soura, who heads the PBCR program in Kashmir said that gender-wise, Breast Cancer is the top cancer in Kashmir among females with 975 patients registered in two years. “Among males, Lung Cancer is still the top location,” she said. She said Stomach, Stomach Junction, Esophagus and Colon and Rectal cancers are also very common as per the data collected over two years.

Prof Afroz termed the data preliminary stating that it is yet to get completed and comprehensive. “The data collection exercise has suffered a great deal last year and we need to catch up that first,” she said. Under the National Cancer Registry Program (NCRP) of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Population-based Cancer registry was started at SKIMS Soura in 2018 March. This data compilation system records cancer patients from data sourced from all hospitals, in cities as well as peripheries. The data is also sourced from private hospitals and diagnostic centers of the state.

The exercise suffered a jolt since 2020 when the pandemic, as per a senior official, made it difficult to collect data from hospitals across the Kashmir division and from other healthcare facilities here.

PbCR, as per ICMR, provides holistic and real time data on various malignancies and helps in devising more effective cancer diagnosis and treatment programs, tailored for the local region. It has been noted that the incidence and effects of various cancers differ region-wise in India. Cervical Cancer, which is among the top cancers among females in India has very low incidence in Kashmir. Similarly, cancers of the mouth which have been found in high numbers in many states have very few patients here. The official said that data collection exercise was expected to resume soon and the field staff was already collecting data from hospitals. He said data duplication is weeded out by default in the PbCR program.

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