Cancer is on rise in Kashmir Valley

More than 1,700 people have died of various types of cancer in Kashmir Valley while over 13,000 have been diagnosed with the disease in last three years. Analysis of the data of cancer patients of the state indicates increase in their number. At Government Medical College Srinagar, 784 people have died of cancer from a period of 2012 to 2014 whereas 2,692 were diagnosed with the disease. At Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS) at Soura in Srinagar, 987 people have died of cancer from a period of 2012 to 2014 whereas 10,622 people were diagnosed with the disease.

While during the same period at Government medical college Jammu 6,220 cancer cases were detected, however the GMC Jammu does not maintain record of death details.  There are several reasons responsible for increase in cancer cases in the state. The reason for the rise in cancer patients is due to change in lifestyle (food habits etc), smoking, obesity, lack of necessary exercise coupled with other ecological changes, imbalances caused due to steep rise of pollution in the atmosphere.

Financial assistance is being provided to cancer patients through number of government run schemes. The Centre has announced setting up of two state cancer institutes, one each at Jammu and Srinagar. After the cancer institutes are established, quality of patient care will further improve.

An assessment of cancer incidence in population is required for prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and resource allocation. This will also guide in the formation of facilities for diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and follow-up for these patients. The demographic trend of cancer will help to identify common types and etiological factors. Efforts at clinical, research and administrative levels are needed to overcome this problem.

Cancers of esophagus, stomach and lungs have a high incidence both in men and women in Kashmir. Future studies on sources and types of environmental pollution and exposures in relation to these cancers may improve our understanding of risk factors held responsible for causation of these malignancies in this region. This will help in the allocation of available resources for prevention and treatment strategies.

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