Srinagar, June 6: In an alarming trend, every day, two new cases of cancer are diagnosed in Kashmir, while majority of majority of patients come from the summer capital of Srinagar.
This number is constantly adding to the 5000 odd cases already suffering from the life consuming ailment in the Valley.
While generally the patients from this trouble-torn region, running short of financial resources, prefer government run facilities for diagnosis and treatment, a few others, who can afford, opt for comparatively costly private treatment, within the state or outside, where better services are available.
Kashmir Observer learnt this all during a study of oncology treatment centers, followed by interaction with Oncologists, the medical professionals dealing with cancer cases.
Even as the number of cancer cases has been on rise across the state, Kashmir seems to be bearing the brunt. As per data collected from government sources, last year4632 cases of cancer were received by the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences Soura and the SMHS Hospital at Karan Nagar alone.
Official documents reveal that the number of recorded cases of cancer in Kashmir rose from 4000 in 2014 to 4632 in 2015. Out of these, 764 were children in the age group of 7 to 14 years.
What is more alarming is that most of the cases are detected only when the disease has reached the last stage, meaning that chances of survival through treatment are bleak, or zero.
Recently, in the state Assembly, the government came out with statistical figures about the occurrence of the deadly disease in the state. These figures were equally shocking.
The government said Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed startling increase in the number of cancer patients over the past five years with official figures putting Srinagar district at the top, followed by Jammu.
In the summer capital, the number of cancer patients has shown a steady rise. From 733 cases as reported in 2011 the figure has risen to 898 in 2015.
In the winter capital of Jammu, the number of cancer cases has increased from 597 to 853 during the same period.
This was revealed by Minister for Health and Medical Education, Bali Bhagat, at the ongoing Budget session in Legislative Council. The Minister in a written reply was responding to query by to PDP MLC, Firdous Tak.
Bhagat said men have been found affected by lung, throat, gastro-internal and lymphoma cancers whereas cervical, breast, throat, gastro-internal and lung cancers were more common among women.
The government figures have shown rise of cancer patients in all the districts of JK state. As per the figures, the number of cancer patients in Baramulla district has risen from 380 in 2011 to 573 in 2015.
The figures reveal that number of cancer patients in the state; in 2011 was 4556, 4848 in 2012, 5068 in 2013, 5568 in 2014 and 6358 in 2015. The Minister said Leh and Kargil districts have only 234 cancer patients, something which is the least among all districts in the state.
Oncologists said not all the patients go to government hospitals for diagnosis or treatment. It often happens that cancer is diagnosed by private testing laboratories, whereas some such cases subsequently continue to opt for private treatment, said a leading Oncologist.
But the problem is that theres no official aggregate of the number of the cases diagnosed or treated at the government and private facilities. Conservative estimates, as reckoned by the oncologists suggest that annually around 150 to 200 such new cases are either diagnosed or treated at private facilities.
Add to this, the new 632 cases as reported last year from SKIMS and SMHS Hospital. The aggregate comes to around 800 cases a year, which means on a average, two new cases of cancer are reported every day in Kashmir, explained a oncologist.
While Kashmir continues to run short of government facilities for treatment, which is equally costly, over the years successive regimes have failed to improve the requisite infrastructure to tackle the deadly situation.
Apart from medical facilities, theres even lack of proper awareness, which could help in early diagnosis or prevention of the life consuming disease.
As per the World Health Organization, cancers figure among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer related deaths in 2012. The WHO apprehends that the number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next 2 decades. Kashmir would equally have its unfortunate share.
As per the WHO, change in lifestyle can prove a preventive measure. More than 30% of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors, including: tobacco use, being overweight or obese, unhealthy diet with low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, alcohol use, sexually transmitted HPV-infection, infection by HBV, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, urban air pollution and indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels, the WHO states.
Amid so many deaths and rise in number of such cases in Kashmir, cancer has emerged as a major concern amid social circles. But what has been the government concern?
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.