Cancer deaths on rise in J&K over the past 4 years

One of the most dreaded disease, Cancer has left no part of the world untouched and Jammu and Kashmir is no exception. Over the years, the state has witnessed a steep surge in cancer cases questioning the health sector of the state. As per the data of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the cases of various types of Cancer including prostate cancer and related deaths are now on rise in Jammu and Kashmir during the past few years. The rising number is being attributed to the unhealthy life style, increased use of tobacco and tobacco products and also the lack of awareness about the factors responsible for this disease.

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Jammu and Kashmir had a record of a total of 10688 cancer cases in J&K and the number increased to 11428 in a span of two years. Till the mid of 2014 a  total of 11815 cases had come forth. The number of mortality cancer cases has also witnessed a steep rise. While the number was 4703 in 2011, it has swelled to 5028 by the year 2013.

The top cancers afflicting the state as Esophagus(cancer of food pipe), Lung cancer, Stomach, colon (large intestine cancers), Breast, Brain, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Gastro Esophageal, Junction Cancer, Ovary and Skin cancers. The highest number of patients fall in the age group 65-69, followed by 55-59 age group. A total of 24768 patients with malignancy have been reported to RCC from the year 2000 to 2012.

Despite the alarming increase there is not even one independent Cancer specialty hospital in the whole state. Regional Cancer Center(RCC), Sher-E-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Srinagar is the  only centre in the valley which was established under national cancer control program so as to provide cancer treatment facilities in addition to prevention activities across the state.

As per the reports by the Department, the cases received are peculiarly different from those in the rest of India. Tobacco use is one of the leading factor in the state as the there is an alarming increase in the number of cases of lung cancers.

However the official sources have claimed that there could be a possibility that the rising number is due to the increased awareness. Better accessibility and medical facilities could be the cause of high records, now more cancer patients report for one reason or the other.

The Central government has been however trying to  supplemented the efforts of state for improving healthcare including prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Cancer. In 2013-14 the Union Government approved a scheme under which two Tertiary Cancer Centres were sanctioned for J&K. However, no significant progress could be made in establishing these two centres. No funds were thereby released by the Union Government-one is Super Speciality Hospital, Jammu and other in SKIMS, Srinagar. With such a grim rise in the recent records of cancer in the state, the health sector needs to e strengthened one way or the other. The Union Government as well as the State Government should pace up their efforts being aware of such grave statistics.

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