The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)­National Centre forDisease Informatics and Research(NCDIR) National Cancer RegistryProgramme Report of August 2020has estimated that the number ofcancer cases in India in 2020 is 13.9lakh.

  • India has seen a steady rise incancer cases over many decades.
  • A2017 report showed that India’s cancer burden increased 2.6 times between 1990 to 2016, and deaths due tocancers doubled during the time.
  • Almost two thirds of these cancercases are at late stages.

Most prevalent forms :

  • In men, themost common cancers are of thelung, oral cavity, stomach and oesophagus, while in women, breast, cervix, ovary and gall bladder cancersare the most common.

Risk Factors :

  • Tobacco use(in all forms) is a major avoidable riskfactor for the development of cancerin 27% of cancer cases. Other important risk factors include alcohol use, inappropriate diet, low physical activity, obesity, and pollution.

Impact :

  • Cancer causes loss of lives and alsohas a tremendous socioeconomic impact.
  • Reducing cancer is a prerequisite for addressing social and economic inequity, stimulatingeconomic growth and acceleratingsustainable development.

Focus Approach :

  • There is a need to focus on three key aspects:risk reduction, early detection and programmatic and policy solutions.
  • Community empowerment: As it is estimated that nearly50%­60% of cancer cases can beavoided by tackling the known riskfactors effectively. Community empowerment through a multisectoralapproach that brings together government, private practitioners andcivil society to increase health literacy and promote certain behaviourcan go a long way in reducing potential risk factors.
  • Improved awarenesscan also prevent stigma attached tothe disease.
  • Health systems should be  strengthened sothat there is greater access to screening and vaccination, early detection,and timely, affordable treatment.

The importance of data:

  • Population health approaches are also relevant for large­scale impact.
  • Programmatic and policy level solutions need to be driven by data.
  • Theinformation collected through theNational Cancer Registry Programme

can be harnessed in Cancer Research.

  • Making cancer a notifiable diseasecould be one of the ways to help drive this research further by providinggreater access to accurate, relevantdata that can drive policy decisions.

Govt Steps :

  • Government programmes such as Ayushman Bharat,Swasthya Bharat, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Poshan Abhiyaan and Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana and initiatives such as
  • FSSAI’s new labelling and display regulations and drug price control canencourage inter­sectoral and multisectoral action.
  • Other initiatives suchas the National Health Policy, the National Tobacco Control Programme,and the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases andStroke are also paving the way forprogress.


As India is committed to achieving aone-third reduction in cancer related deaths by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals , our approach to fight cancer  should not simply focus on diagnostics, treatment modalities and vaccines, but emphasise inclusivity in thinking and action for equitable solutions that can greatly reduce the impact of cancer across all socioeconomic levels in thecountry.