One word that is even more daunting than the death itself and eats up a person from the inside is cancer. Every year, about 800,000 new cancer patients get registered with the National Cancer Registry Programme in India. This shows that cancer is one of the major health problems in India at present. Lung and oral cancer are the most common types of cancers among men, where as cervical and breast cancer among women in India. There were 5,56,400 cancer-related deaths in India in the year 2010. Out of which, 71% of cancer patients (3,95,400) were of the age group between 30-69 years.

In general, chewing tobacco is one of the major reasons of cancer in India. Near about 50% of all cancers in men and 20% in women are caused by chewing tobacco. At global level, India has the highest number of oral cancer cases and each year about 75,000 to 80,000 new cases are added in the list. 20-30% of cancer cases come forward because of wrong eating, wrong sexual and reproductive habits.

Common types of cancers in India

Cancer of the head and neck is the most common type of cancer in India that is caused by eating tobacco and drinking alcohol. From the recent report by the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW), it is clear that India accounts for the 86% of the total oral cancer figure across the globe. 90% of oral cancer is caused by chewing tobacco and eating gutka. Each year, there are 1.5 lakh of cancer cases because of tobacco use. Cancer of oral cavity can be detected at a very early stage and the patient is then kept away from these things and given lots of green and yellow vegetables.

Stomach cancer in India is caused by eating lots of red chillies and consuming alcohol. Out of total cancer deaths in 2010, 12.6% deaths were caused by stomach cancer, making it the second biggest form of cancer.

Cancer of the large intestine is caused by eating red meat. South Indians are at high risk of developing bowel cancer as there has been seen a rise in the consumption of red meat in south India.

The commonest form of cancer among women in India are  uterine and cervical cancer. 20-25 women out of 100,000 suffer from cervical cancer in India. Multiple sexual partners, and bad sexual hygiene are some of the most common causes of this type of cancer in India. But there has been seen a reduction in the number of cases of the uterine and cervical cancer with the increase in the standard of living. Rural women are at higher risk of developing uterine cancer than their urban counterparts.

Next leading form of cancer among Indian women is breast cancer. It is estimated that by the year 2025, the number of people suffering from breast cancer in India will double. There are number of factors that lead to this deadly disease. Most of the causal factors are related to the reproductive system of the female body such as late first pregnancy (generally after 30 years of age), single child, no breast feeding, late age at menopause etc. Also, women who eat fat-rich diet are at a high risk of developing breast cancer. Women must do regular exercise to prevent the risk developing of breast cancer. Whereas, in the past few decades, there has been a stability in the number of ovarian cancers cases in India.

Is cancer preventable?

Though heredity plays its role in causing cancer, but that accounts for just five percent of cancer cases. This means that the rest of the percentage is caused by non-heredity factors such as lifestyle, food we eat, level of physical activity, personal hygiene, etc. Also from epidemiological studies, it is clear that 70-90% reasons of developing cancer are environmental and related to the lifestyle of a person and so, to a great extent, it is preventable. As per senior doctors, all the major forms of cancers are preventable. Cervical cancer can be fully prevented with awareness. Oral cancer can be prevented by not eating tobacco and drinking alcohol. Do not eat very spicy and hot food if you want to avoid the risk of developing stomach cancer. Last, but not the least, regular exercise, for at least 30 minutes in a day is necessary for a healthy lifestyle.

Here is a great infographic on cancer, asking whether it is preventable. Do have a look at it to learn more about the various types of cancer, cancer treatments, symptoms to look out for, tips for prevention and a lot more.