World Cancer Day: Experts say early screening can detect, cure 80% of Indian patients


Even as cancer incidence is continuing to increase in India, experts on World Cancer Day on Sunday — World Cancer Day — suggested that if cancer is detected and diagnosed at an initial stage, then cure rate is very high. World Cancer Day is observed on February 4 each year. The theme this year is ‘Close the Care Gap’.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Cancer Registry Program, the number of cancer cases in the country is projected to go up from 1.46 million in 2022 to 1.57 million in 2025. “To win over cancer in India, the first step is educating people to get screened for cancer before they have any symptoms. This helps to cancer detection. If found in stages I or II, most cancers are curable in more than 80 per cent of patients,” Ashish Gupta, Chief Oncologist, Unique Hospital Cancer Center, Delhi, told IANS.

“By the time symptoms develop many cancers are in Stage III or IV, when cure rates falls down to less than 25 per cent. Population-based initiatives should be adopted for prevention, control and screening for three common cancers — oral, breast and cervical cancer which are most commonly found cancers in India,” added Gupta, who heads the Cancer Mukt Bharat (Cancer Free India) Campaign.

The campaign on cancer awareness aims to reach 1 million people across India.

According to Rahul Bhargava, Principal Director of Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, multi-cancer early detection (MCED) tests — a type of liquid biopsy — can help catch early-stage cancer cells long before symptoms appear.

“By utilizing machine-learning algorithms, these tests identify the likely origin of tumors based on DNA and protein profiles. MCED tests hold immense promise for revolutionizing cancer detection,” Bhargava told IANS.

Detecting disease earlier also reduces the need for costly advance-stage treatments, benefiting health care systems and patients alike.

“Most cancers become deadly by keeping a low profile, causing no symptoms until they’re too advanced to treat. Ovarian and gastroesophageal cancers are among the most notorious for this sly disease progression, often leading to late-stage diagnoses,” Vineet Nakra, Radiation Oncologist at Max Super Speciality Hospital New Delhi, told IANS.

The experts noted that after the diagnosis, a right treatment plan starting Day One is “most important.” Modern medicines have helped improve the clinical outcomes in a big way.

“Not only chemotherapy, but also immunotherapy, targeted therapy and hormonal therapies many of which were not available even five or 10 years ago, have drastically improved cancer cure rates,” Gupta said.

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