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Cancer Cases in India

Jan 22, 2023

cancer cases in India

Our today's edition of Current Affairs is here. Read to know more about Cancer Cases in India. Also, find the topic's relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus below:

For Prelims: General Science 

Cancer, cell division, Types of Cancer, non-communicable diseases, HPV vaccination

For Mains: GS Paper II, Government Policies & Interventions

About the highlights of the recent findings, About Cancer, Causes for the decline in Cancer cases, Causes for the rise in some forms of Cancer, Status of Cancer in India.


A recent finding reported that there is a steep decline of 33% in the rate of deaths due to cancer in the US. 

Probable Question 

Why despite improved technology there is a consistent rise in the number of cases of cancer? Explain (150 words, 10 marks)

About the Highlights of the Recent Findings

  • It is reported that in India the rates of cervical and smoking related cancers have gone down however, the incidence of lung and breast cancers has increased.
  • There is a decline of 65% in the rates of cervical cancer in women in their early 20s between 2012 and 2019, the first cohort to receive the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) vaccine.
  • Overall there are 3.8 million fewer deaths due to cancer.

About Cancer

  • Our body is made up of multiple numbers of cells.
  • Normally, human cells grow and multiply (through a process called cell division) to form new cells as the body needs them. 
  • When cells grow old or are damaged, they die, and new cells take their place. Sometimes this orderly process breaks down, and abnormal or damaged cells grow and multiply when they shouldn’t. 
  • When the body’s cells grow uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body it causes cancer. Thus cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body. 
  • These cells may form tumors, which are lumps of tissue, this can be cancerous or not cancerous (benign).
  • Types of Cancer: There are more than 100 types of cancer that are usually named for the organs or tissues where the cancers form. For example, lung cancer starts in the lung, and brain cancer starts in the brain.
  • Common cancer types in men: The most common cancers were of the lung, mouth, prostate, tongue, and stomach.
  • Common cancer types in women: The most common cancers are breast, cervix, ovary, uterus, and lung.

Causes for the decline in Cancer Cases

  • Better Treatment: In the US the success is attributed to early detection, lower rates of smoking, and improvements in cancer treatment.
  • Change in Lifestyle: Rates of cervical cancer have declined because of later marriages, fewer children, better hygiene, and vaccination. 
  • Vaccination: Cervical cancer can be prevented with HPV vaccination which is becoming cheaper. 
  • Strict Laws: The rates of tobacco-related cancers such as oral, and oesophageal cancers are also coming down. This is largely due to tobacco laws that have brought down smoking in public places.

Causes for the rise in Some forms of Cancer

  • Change in Lifestyle: The incidence of breast cancer has gone up because of the late age of marriage, having the first child at a later age, not breastfeeding, and a high protein diet.
  • Unknown Causes: There is no specific intervention for breast cancer other than screening because what causes it is unknown.
  • Late diagnosis: Lung cancer, caused due to smoking, indoor fires, cooking smoke and other air pollutants, is usually detected at very late stages. Thus chances of survival are not very high.

Status of Cancer in India

  • The top non-communicable diseases (NCDs) causes of death in India were cardiovascular diseases (heart diseases-24%), followed by cancers (11%). 
  • News Cases: An estimated 14.6 lakh new cancer cases were detected in 2022, up from 14.2 lakhs in 2021 and 13.9 lakhs in 2020, as per data from the National Cancer Registry of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). 
  • Drop in cases: The incidence of cervical cancer has dropped in India over the last 50 years from 45 to 10 per 100,000 population.
  • Rise in cases: There is an increase in rates of breast cancer, especially in urban centers. 
  • Women have been highly affected: The incidence of cancer is higher among women i.e. 103.6 per 100,000 in 2020 compared to 94.1 among men. 
  • Death: Deaths due to cancer increased to an estimated 8.08 lakh in 2022 from 7.9 lakh in 2021 and 7.7 lakh in 2020. 

Estimated Rise 

  • The incidence of all cancers is estimated to increase to 15.7 lakh by 2025, according to the data.
  • One in nine Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime, according to an ICMR study using data from population-based cancer registries. 
  • One in 68 men will develop lung cancer and one in 29 women will develop breast cancer, according to the study.

Way Forward

  • Better linkage: According to the doctors- better screening and treatment centers, and more comprehensive linkages between screening centers and hospitals are essential to reduce cancer mortality in the country.
  • More Screening: Cervical, breast, and oral cancers account for 34% of cancers in India, so screening for them is good; however, it has to be more focused in order to achieve mortality gains.
  • Timely Treatment: There are several programs of the government that are working independently and in silos. They need to be coordinated so that once a person is screened, he/ she do reach a hospital.
  • Need for more machines: The WHO says there should be 1 radiotherapy machine per million population in developing countries, However, India just gave half of the machines required, thus there is also a need for more machines.

Frequently Asked Question

How many cases of cancer are in India?

An estimated 14.6 lakh new cancer cases were detected in 2022, up from 14.2 lakhs in 2021 and 13.9 lakhs in 2020, as per data from the National Cancer Registry of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). 

Which state in India has the highest cancer rate?

As per the Indian Council of Medical Research’s cancer registry data report of 2020, overall, Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of 2.01 lakh cancer cases in 2020, followed by Maharashtra with 1.16 lakh cases and West Bengal with 1.08 lakh cases.

Are Cancer Cases Increasing in India?

As compared to 2021 and 2020 the number of cancer cases significantly rose in 2022. Although a recent finding shows that in India the rates of cervical and smoking related cancers have gone down, however, the incidence of lung and breast cancers has increased.

Which city has more cancer patients in India?

The  Cancer Atlas by the Health Ministry indicates that New Delhi has the world’s highest age-adjusted incidence of gall bladder cancer in women i.e. 10.6 per 100 000 of the population. Aizawl district in the northeastern state of Mizoram has the world's highest incidence of cancers in men of the lower pharynx (11.5 per 100 000 people) and tongue (7.6 per 100 000 people), the atlas shows. The district also has the country's highest rate of stomach cancer among men. The incidence of mouth cancer among men in Pondicherry was 8.9 per 100 000, one of the highest rates in the world for men. 

Image Source: National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)

News Source: The Indian Express

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