Follow Up

The data is so old it is almost obsolete. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has brought out its report on the incidence of cancer five years too late.

For all that it is worth, the "Consolidated Report of the Population Based Cancer Registries' provides information on the incidence of cancer in five urban areas and one rural centre over seven years between 1990-1996. It was meant to cover the period 1992-2002 (See Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 15, Faceless figures, December 31 2001).

Even though the report is replete with statistics, the ICMR has made no effort at data analysis. It plans to publish the analysis, some time in the future, probably when the data becomes totally outdated.

Although backdated, the results are somewhat surprising. For instance, if you live in India, you have less chance of contracting cancer than someone in Europe or US. There is good news for those living in Bangalore, Bhopal and Chennai as the incidence of cancer in these cities has gone down since 1989. It also seems that men are luckier than women. Men in the city of Mumbai and Vashi town are less likely to get affected by this scourge than women.

The data indicates no change in the incidence of cancer during the seven-year period. However, the report notes changes in individual cities. Out of the 20 different types of cancers described, there is an increase in ten. Incidence of blood cancer, especially lymphoid leukaemia and myeloid leukaemia has risen in all the six test areas. Delhi shows an increase in cancer of the rectum, gall bladder, ovary, prostrate and brain. Mumbai shows a rise in lung, breast, ovary, prostrate, and brain cancer. Bhopal shows an increase in lung cancer while Chennai has more cases of breast cancer, prostrate and brain cancer. Bangalore has higher incidence of breast and ovarian cancer.

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