Indian Journal of Cancer, Vol. 46, No. 4, October-December, 2009, pp. 340
Letter To Editor
Cancer control in India- A sorry state
Sharma V, Giri S
Department of Medicine, University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi
Code Number: cn09079
The study by Somdatta et al. is an eye opener.  Even as the west is trying to detect breast cancer as early as possible using self examination of breast, we in India are still tackling a gross lack of awareness about even the existence of disease. Even more distressing is the prevalent belief regarding breast feeding being responsible for breast cancer. Studies have documented an even greater lack of awareness as also the lack of screening for cervical carcinoma in India.  Situation is no different for other cancers including tobacco related tumours.
Even as India continues to battle infectious diseases, focus should not be lost of the cancer related morbidity and mortality. The problems vis-a-vis India are multifold- an acute lack of awareness amongst community, self-neglect and late presentation, prevalence of alternative systems and quacks, prevalent tobacco use, poverty and resource crunch. This calls for a complete overhaul of the national cancer control programme with strong emphasis on primary prevention of major cancers in the country. There is a dire need to educate the general public about the common presentations and the need for early treatment. This can be through involvement of mass media including television, radio and the print media. Other health programmes like the Reproductive and child health programme etc can be utilised as opportunities to educate the public about presentation and early detection of cancers. As has been mentioned, community based educational interventions can increase community awareness about cancer and can yield a positive change in practice of strategy for early detection of cancer.  Tobacco related legislation should be implemented in letter and spirit as tobacco is singularly responsible for more than half of cancer related mortality. The youth of the nation, including the school children should be educated about cancers and the causative factors like tobacco. As far as prevention of cancer related mortality is concerned, awareness is life.
Copyright 2009 - Indian Journal of Cancer