Among other factors, geography plays an important role in the occurrence of certain types of cancer in the country. A cancer intensity map of India clearly illustrates the dominance of different types of cancer in different geographical areas.
In a country where 2,000 new cases of cancer are detected every day, of which 1,500 people succumb to the disease, statistical studies of this kind can help in taking preventive measures to decrease mortality rates.
The Indian government’s 2012 report, Million Death Study, showed conclusively that for Indians, the area they live in contributes significantly not just to the development of cancer but also to the eventual outcome of the disease. According to the study, the pattern of cancer distribution is linked to the food habits, culture and socio-economic conditions of the region. So compared to a youngster from Bihar, a young adult from northeast India is four times more likely to develop cancer and die due to the disease.
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Different Regions, Different Cancers
In the Gangetic plains of north India, there is very high incidence of gall bladder cancer, which has been linked to high pollution levels in the water and a diet which is rich in animal protein. In the northeastern part of India, there is a high risk of people developing oesophageal cancer due to excessive use of tobacco and burning of firewood for domestic use.
Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh, the high incidence of oral cancer is due to high consumption of tobacco and pan masala while south India leads in stomach cancer due to a diet rich in spices and salt.
However, in the midst of all this gloom, there is some good news as well. If cancer is detected in its early stages, the chances of a positive outcome are high. Due to advances in treatment, awareness of cancer symptoms means that 85 per cent of those diagnosed live beyond five years. This is something that every Indian should know to succeed in the battle against cancer.
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