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20% of cancer patients below 40: Study

June 03,2024

New Delhi: A study by the Cancer Mukt Bharat Foundation has revealed that 20 per cent of cancer patients in Delhi and other cities of the country are below the age of 40 years. Of these, 60 per cent are male and 40 per cent are female, indicating the rise of the disease among the younger generation.

The study was conducted among 1,368 patients across India who called the foundation’s cancer helpline number from March 1 to May 15. The highest number of calls were from Hyderabad (145), followed by Meerut (96), Mumbai (76), and New Delhi (74).

In the United States, the American Cancer Society has also reported that the demographics of cancer patients are increasingly shifting from older to middle-aged people.

Recently, under the Cancer Mukt Bharat Campaign, a free-of-cost national cancer helpline number, 93-555-20202, was launched. It is operational from 10 am to 5 pm, Monday to Saturday. Patients can call this number to speak with leading oncologists or even do a video call to discuss their treatment without paying any fees.

The study found that head and neck cancer were the most prevalent cases, accounting for 26 per cent of patients. This was closely followed by gastrointestinal cancers at 16 per cent , breast cancer at 15 per cent , and then blood cancers at 9 per cent . These findings are in line with the Globocan national data for India. The study also found that 27 per cent of cases diagnosed were in stages I and II of cancer, whereas 63 per cent were in stages III or IV.

Most of the patients who called the helpline number were seeking second opinion. They wanted to confirm whether their treatment was correct and up-to-date, and to check the availability of any latest treatments or medicines for their respective cancers. In cancer treatment, new medicines are approved almost every week, so this is an important reason to seek another opinion, said oncologists.

The second most common question the study found was: patients asking what stage their cancer is in, indicating the importance of education for them. Thirdly, patients commonly asked about their family members and what they can do to prevent cancer, highlighting the importance of cancer screening and awareness.

Dr Ashish Gupta, principal investigator and senior oncologist who is heading this campaign, said, “In our country, escalating rates of obesity, changes in dietary habits, specifically the increase in consumption of ultra-processed food, and sedentary lifestyles are also associated with higher cancer rates. We must adopt a healthy lifestyle and avoid the use of tobacco and alcohol to prevent the risk of cancer in the younger generation.”

Source: Healthworld

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