More than 63% of cancer deaths among Indian women could have been prevented: Lancet | health News


According to the latest 2020 report of the Lancet Commission on Gender and Cancer Treatment, about 63 per cent of cancer deaths among women in India could have been prevented by reducing risk factors or through screening or diagnosis and appropriate and timely treatment. 37 percent of deaths could have been prevented. data.

The data shows that about 6.9 million cancer deaths among women in India could have been prevented and 4.03 million could have been treated.

The report, “Women, Power and Cancer”, highlights how societal indifference towards women’s health, lack of awareness and absence of quality expertise at the primary care level has hindered their access to cancer prevention, detection and care. Delayed.

The report highlights a case study of a 36-year-old woman from Mumbai’s Nala Sopara area as representative of gender disparity in cancer care in the country. She didn’t know her headaches were caused by developing brain cancer because her alcoholic husband never thought it required basic counseling.

“If you die, die.” If you are alive, live,” he told her when she was going through physical abuse. The local doctor dismissed his condition as an eye problem. Her father-in-law, a salesman, ensured that she received medical help and diagnosis.

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Gender gap in healthcare

With similar cancer burdens in both men and women, the Lancet report calls for more sex- and gender-inclusive policies and guidelines. The report raises a red flag about long-standing discriminatory practices that undermine women’s interactions with the health system, leading to poor outcomes for them. It also emphasizes that women are less likely to be in positions of power and may be unable to determine their own care. Additionally, it emphasizes that patriarchy dominates cancer care, research, and policy making.

Many people like her are living with cancer, domestic violence and poverty, who are unable to access treatment and quickly progress to advanced stages.

Lancet Commissioner Dr Ishu Kataria said that in 2020, more than half of women suffering from cancer in India died due to family indifference, their own indifference towards their condition, lack of access to medical facilities and finance.

Emphasizing the need for a “feminist” approach to cancer, she told The Indian Express, “We need to see cancer as a priority issue in women’s health. Women approach cancer in different ways, not Not only as people living with the disease but also as unpaid caregivers, individuals participating in cancer prevention and screening at the national level, healthcare providers, researchers and policy makers.

“In this context, they face gender bias and discrimination on multiple fronts, be it because of their age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender identity or sexual orientation. This hinders their ability to receive good quality care for both diagnosis and treatment,” she said.

In terms of cancer deaths among women, the top three cancers in India – breast, cervical, ovarian – were the leading causes in 2020, according to official data.

The Lancet report said infections remain the biggest risk factor for cancer in Indian women, causing 23 per cent of deaths. Infections that increase cancer risk include the HPV virus, which causes cervical cancer, and hepatitis B and C infections, which increase the risk of liver cancer. The report said tobacco is the second most important risk factor, contributing to six percent of cancer deaths. Alcohol and obesity both contribute one percent to cancer mortality in India.

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The report also looks at the economic impact of premature deaths due to cancer. It said the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries lost US$46.3 billion due to lost productivity as a result of premature cancer deaths. The report estimates that the value of unpaid cancer care by women is about 3.66 percent of India’s national health expenditure.

Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Deputy Director, Center for Cancer Epidemiology, Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, said: “Awareness among educationally and economically less empowered women is important. Many women inevitably present themselves with advanced stages of cancer.

That’s why the Lancet Commission has called for a new feminist and inclusive agenda for cancer care.

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