IN a major breakthrough, twelve rectal cancer patients who took the same drug for six months were completely rid of the deadly disease. The patients were found without any signs of the tumour after going through a series of medical exams such as physical exam, endoscopy, bioscopy, PET scans, and MRI scans. Also, none of the participants reported any severe side-effects either, says the research paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine recently. The researchers had set out to find whether dostarlimab, a new drug, followed by standard chemoradiotherapy and standard surgery is an effective treatment for solid tumours. And the result has pleasantly surprised the world now. However, it would be long before there is a comprehensive cure for the cancer. And until then prevention will remain the best approach to deal with the disease that is responsible for killing millions of people.
In Kashmir, for that matter, the cancer has grown disproportionately over the last decade. Data over the last decade presents a grim picture. Around 3,075 cancer cases were reported in 2011, 3,288 in 2012, 3,157 in 2013, 3,940 in 2014 and 4,257 in 2015. The figures since have only grown bigger. In 2021 alone, Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences alone registered over 5000 new cases of cancer in 2021 with breast cancer showing a conspicuous spike.
This calls for more pro-active handling of the situation from the UT government. In addition to generous allocation of resources for the treatment, there is an urgent need to investigate the reasons for the sudden increase in the number of cancers in the UT. People need to know as to what has changed in Kashmir that has led to the spread of cancer. It is a pity that our major healthcare institutions have been unable to put into public domain credible research about the causes for growing incidence of cancer in the region. Such studies will be immensely helpful as they will persuade people to take due precautions to reduce their vulnerability to the disease. The public awareness that the doctors have talked about will flow from this.
In recent years, food contamination and adulteration has emerged as major issue in Kashmir. Hazardous agents have been found to have been used even in the food products of some major corporate houses. Sadly, J&K Government has so far done little about the growing food adulteration in the UT, which has now been proven to be one of the factors leading to the rise in cases of cancer in the Valley. The rise in cancers is, therefore, a wake-up call. The government has to get cracking on the unscrupulous traders and expose the use of chemicals and dyes in the food. And at least, to start with, there has to be a campaign to create more awareness of the ways in which our food is adulterated. That is, until dostarlimab is proved to be effective in curing all cancers.
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