Study warns of growing cancer burden across India-The Hindu-(PG-9)-26-12-2019


According to a new study, incidence of cancer in India is centuries old and not a phenomenon caused by westernization as it is popularly believed.

The study also highlights the growing incidence of cancer in India on account of increase in life expectancy, epidemiological transition and better cancer diagnostics.

Key Highlights

Trends of Cancer Incidence

The number of cancer cases in India has nearly doubled from 548000 in 1990 to 1069000 in 2016.

The crude cancer incidence rate in India increased by 28·2% from 63·4 per 100 000 in 1990 to 81·2 per 100 000 in 2016.

In 2018, India had an estimated 1.15 million new cancer patients in 2018.

By 2040, this is predicted to double as a result of the ongoing ageing of India and improving access to cancer diagnostics in rural India.

Mortality due to Cancer

Cancer in general contributed 5.0% of the total deaths and 8.3% of the total deaths in India in 2016.

The number of deaths due to cancer in India increased from 382 000 in 1990 to 813000 in 2016.


Currently crude cancer incidence rate is highest in Kerala and Mizoram, followed by Haryana, Delhi, Karnataka, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Assam.

The fastest epidemiological transition happened in Kerala with low incidences of infectious diseases and high incidence of cancer.


The types of cancers in India are also undergoing a transition.

There has been a decline of cancers caused by infections, such as cervical, stomach, and penile cancer, and an increase in cancers associated with energy intake, physical activity imbalance and ageing, such as breast, colorectal and prostate cancers.

The main types of cancer in India in 2016 which are responsible for more than 5% of the total
cancer deaths were

Stomach cancer (9·0%), breast cancer (8·2%), lung cancer (7·5%), lip and oral cavity cancer (7·2%), pharynx cancer other than nasopharynx (6·8%), colon and rectum cancer (5·8%), leukaemia (5·2%), and cervical cancer (5·2%).

While the age-adjusted incidence of most common cancers remained static, that of breast cancer increased in India by 39.1% from 1990 to 2016.

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