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Rise in Cancer Incidences Among Younger People in India


Data from the Cancer Mukt Bharat Foundation, launched by a consortium of oncologists, reveals a significant trend: 20% of individuals reaching out to their NGO-operated helpline seeking secondary opinions on cancer diagnoses were under 40 years old. This points to a concerning uptick in cancer occurrences among younger demographics. Over the period from March 1 to May 15, 1,368 callers sought assistance.


Among those under 40, 60% were male, according to the study. The most prevalent cancer types reported were head and neck (26%), gastrointestinal (16%), breast (15%), and blood cancers (9%).

Predominantly, inquiries flooded in from Hyderabad, trailed by Meerut, Mumbai, and New Delhi, as per the NGO’s statement.

The helpline (93-555-20202), operational Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, extends free secondary opinion services for cancer patients. Individuals can directly communicate with leading oncologists or engage in video consultations regarding their cancer treatment.

Dr. Ashish Gupta, Principal Investigator of the Cancer Mukt Bharat Campaign and a senior oncologist, underscores the helpline’s pivotal role in offering support to cancer patients nationwide, with hundreds of daily inquiries.

“This study enables a more targeted cancer treatment approach, striving towards a ‘Cancer Mukt’ India,” Dr. Gupta elaborates. “Head and neck cancer emerged as the most prevalent, largely preventable through lifestyle changes, vaccinations, and screening. Effective screening strategies exist for breast and colon cancers to detect cancer early. Alarmingly, two-thirds of cancers were diagnosed in later stages, reflecting low screening adoption.”

Educational gaps were evident in patient queries, with 27% of cases diagnosed in early stages, while 63% were in advanced stages. Secondary opinion requests dominated inquiries, alongside queries on the latest treatments and preventative measures for family members.

The Cancer Mukt Bharat campaign aims to curtail cancer’s impact through education and early detection initiatives.

Highlighting a concerning statistic, Dr. Gupta notes that 67% of helpline users received treatment from private hospitals, while 33% sought care from government facilities. Lifestyle factors like obesity, dietary shifts, increased processed food consumption, and sedentary habits correlate with rising cancer rates. Encouraging healthier lifestyles and abstaining from tobacco and alcohol are crucial preventive measures.

The helpline serves as a beacon, offering expert guidance to patients grappling with cancer’s complexities, free of charge.

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