TODAY -

World Cancer Day 2022

Dr Anil Ayekpam *



World Cancer Day is an international day marked on 4th February of every year to raise awareness on Cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection and treatment.

World Cancer Day is led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and the primary goal is to significantly reduce illness and death caused by Cancer and is an opportunity to rally the international community to end the injustice of preventable suffering from Cancer.

World Cancer Day targets misinformation, raises awareness and to reduce stigma associated with Cancer. Multiple initiatives are run on World Cancer Day to show support for those affected by Cancer.

One of these movements for example are #NoHairSelfie, a global movement to have people to shave their heads either physically or virtually to show a symbol of courage for those undergoing Cancer treatment. Images of participants are then shared all over social media.

The theme for World Cancer Day this year is “Close the Care Gap” which aims to raise awareness about the lack of equity in Cancer care and explains the barriers that exists for many people in accessing services and receiving the care they need–and how these barriers potentially reduce a person’s chance of surviving Cancer.

Worldwide, an estimated 193 lakh new Cancer cases and almost 100 lakh cancer deaths occurred in the year 2020. Breast cancer in female is the most common cancer diagnosed, and lung Cancer accounts for the maximum deaths due to Cancer. The figure shows the 10 most common Cancer diagnosed and the proportion of death due to Cancer.

While Cancer continues to be the first or second leading cause of death before the age of 70 in majority of the countries,the distribution of care services for Cancer varies widely among countries, or even within the same country. For example, in India, half of all major Cancer hospitals are in metro cities. North East India, which is emerging as the Cancer capital of India has only a few Cancer care centres.

The Bhubaneswar Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) in Guwahati and Atal Bihari Vajpayee Regional Cancer Centre, Agartala are the only two non-private cancer institute in the entire North East with a fully equipped manpower and machineries to treat Cancer. While private Cancer institutes are on the rise in this region, it is unaffordable for majority of our population.

Manipur still does not have a comprehensive Government Cancer care hospital with required manpower and machineries at this time. No doubt, most patients continue to go outside the State when diagnosed with Cancer. As the treatment for Cancer mostly requires surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, the treatment is prolonged and multi-staged and treatment time for most Cancer will take at least 6 months.

Treatment decisions are complex and a group decision making is necessary in most cases. Amidst all the referral among scattered Cancer care specialists working in various Government and private setup, it is the confusion and frustration, which compels most of our Cancer patients to spend huge amount of money and go to major Cancer centres in other parts of the country.

But not everything is as bad as it seems. Cancer for most solid organ tumours need surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy at different points of time. Usually for breast cancer, chemotherapy is given within 6 weeks of surgery and radiation within 6 months.

So, with the limited centres and caregiver scattered among various hospitals, successful treatment can be co-ordinated. Recently, a 42 year old newly married woman with breast Cancer, had her first-born son, all while during her breast Cancer treatment. We wish to share such stories more often.

Treating Cancer is costly and lengthy too. Not everybody affords to go outside or private Cancer hospitals for treatment. What we need at present is to focus on affordable Government cancer hospital of our State. Infrastructure and machineries, are a matter of Government commitment and can be installed anytime when the Government wants. What we cannot buy is the man who will be running this.

A gradual built up of manpower and training is required, if ever a Government Cancer care hospital is coming in near future. The sooner it comes, the better it is, as statistics suggest one out of 3 individuals will have Cancer in their lifetime and many of us will need to visit such centres in our life time.


* Dr Anil Ayekpam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is MS (General Surgery), Dr NB (Surgical Oncology) working as Consultant Surgical Oncologist, Shija Hospitals and Research Institute
This article was webcasted on February 04 2022.



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