Srinagar, Aug 2: In a worrying trend Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a constant increase in cancer cases as the government of India’s data has revealed that in the last three years (2019 to 2021) the UT has reported 39,041 cancer cases.
As per Union Health Ministry’s figures, J&K has reported an estimated 39041 cancer cases, of which 12675 were recorded in 2019, 13012 in 2020 and 13354 in 2021.
A cursory look at the figures points out that there is constant increase in cancer cases. The Ministry has stated that the data is compiled by the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Cancer Registry Data report on “National Cancer Registry Programme Report 2020.”
“Cancer is a multi factorial disease and the risk factors inter alia include ageing population, sedentary lifestyle, use of tobacco
products, unhealthy diet and air pollution. The number of cancer cases due to water and industrial pollution is not available,” the ministry’s note reads.
Rising trend of cancer cases in J&K is a cause of concern for the general populace as well as for health care workers and government, several studies have been done in the past to know about the causes leading to a surge in such cases.
In 2012 SKIMS study blamed the growing incidence of cancers to "food habits and life style patterns" as also to the consumption of the high salt content foods.
Many dyes, used in industries and sometimes in foods, are also thought to act as human carcinogens. And some of these dyes, like carmoisine and tartrazine, have been found to be used as a coloring agent in many edibles, spices and condiments in Kashmir.
In recent years, food contamination and adulteration have emerged as a major issue in Kashmir. Hazardous agents have been found to have been used even in the food products of some major corporate houses. In 2014, this forced the high court to pass serious strictures against them.
Recently, Kashmir’s first Population-based Cancer Registry (PbCR), the two-year data under the project, brought many unknown facts about how various cancers afflict the region to the fore.
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.