World Cancer Day 2017, cancer, health, India
Staff members of a government-run pharmaceutical college mark World Cancer Day in BengaluruReuters

After heart attack, cancer causes the maximum number of deaths in India. On the occasion of World Cancer Day on February 4, here are some facts about this disease in India.

Also Read: Can burnt toast give you cancer?

Around 70 percent of all cancer patients approach the doctor when chances of cure are very less. Only 30 percent of cancer cases at an advanced stage have a chance of being treated successfully without the possibility of recurrence of the tumours.

The delay in seeking medical help happens due to many factors, including lack of awareness. Also, when the development of cancer cells takes place in the body cavity, the symptoms are hard to detect, and this causes a delay in diagnosis, often leading to the patient's death. 

"Those who approach in the first stage of cancer most often have 85% chances of cure, in stage 2, there are 60% chances of cure, stage 3 falls to 30% and those who start treatment at stage 4 will not survive for more than 5 years. The increased number of patients who approach the doctor only after they reach advanced stages is based on the malignancy," Dr Ramakant Deshpande, oncosurgeon and vice chairman of Asian Cancer Institute, says.

"The symptoms in certain types of cancer if based in publically knowledgeable areas are easier to detect. These patients approach the doctor at a pre palpable stage wherein cancer of the pancreas, lungs, ovary the symptoms are seen in the body cavities. It is not specific, and is often misunderstood to be stomach ailment or cough and is hence neglected. Such patients consult a doctor only in the advanced stages," he adds.

Breast and cervical cancer in women, and lungs and oral cavity cancer in men lead to 50 percent of cancer deaths in India. The mortality rate can be lowered if the cancer is detected and treated at an early stage.

"This could significantly reduce the death rate from these cancers. The relative five year survival averages to 48.7 percent. Length of survival depends on the cancer stage at the time of diagnosis. The survival chance of a person becomes better if the cervical cancer is diagnosed and treated at earlier stages. Also the morbidity due to cancer treatment is very less if the patient is detected at an early stage," Dr Ajay Kolse, consultant radiation oncologist, Holy Spirit Hospital, says. 

"Therefore it is important to avail of cervical cancer screening like Pap smear Test which is a very cheap test and can be done at any hospital or nursing home. Regarding Breast Cancer, All females who are above 40 years of age should undergo Mammography test annually. As 60-70% of cancers detected are sporadic it is always better to have periodic health checkups done," he adds.

Among the many causes of cancer are lifestyle-related triggers, such as stress, eating habits and lack of exercise. One should avoid tobacco consumption in any form as it's said to be one of the leading causes of oral and lung cancer.

Cancer also has genetic causes. In India, colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer. It is caused due to genetic factors in 25 percent of patients. In 2016, as many as 1,35,430 cancer cases were observed in India, out of which five to six percent were colorectal cancer cases.

"I would like to suggest do not ignore things like lump if they are not malignant. If cancer is detected in the early stages there is a very high chance of survival. One should be aware of any unusual changes they notice about their bodies. People should not ignore this symptom because of the cost for the treatment," Dr Adwait Gore, oncologist, Zen Hospital, says.