Hyderabad: Cancer has become the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular ailments globally, a trend that was recently highlighted by a state-wide Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) study, published in The Lancet medical journal last year. However, the chances of survival or recovery i.e. prognosis from cancer is relatively low when compared to cardiovascular patients in Telangana and elsewhere. The major reasons for poor prognosis of cancer patients are low level of awareness about cancers, delayed diagnosis and of courses less accessibility to quality cancer care services.
Heavy out of pocket expenditure
For cancer patients from economically weaker sections in Telangana, barring MNJ Cancer Hospital, there are not many quality treatment facilities. The MNJ Cancer Hospital attracts a heavy influx of poor cancer patients from the entire State and even from far-flung districts of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
As a result, families belonging to low and middle income groups in Hyderabad and the districts only have Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) as an option for treatment, which leads to a lot of out-of-pocket expenditure for patients. The treatment costs even at Basavatarakam India-American Cancer Hospital, which is managed by a charitable foundation, are a burden on patients.
Typically, the treatment cost of cancer hovers anywhere between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh and could go higher depending on the chemotherapy cycles. As a result, a majority of patients depend on Government-sponsored insurance schemes or source funds needed for treatment from CM Relief Fund.
On its part, the CMRF does not cover the entire cost of treatment, as only 50 per cent of the amount is released by the authorities while the rest of the funds are pooled from relatives, friends and private lenders, exposing cancer patients and their relatives to debt trap. “In addition to financial struggles, a majority of patients who come to us are diagnosed very late, which makes it very difficult for the doctors to provide treatment,” Director, MNJ Cancer Hospital, Dr. Jayalatha points out. The ICMR study acknowledged the fact that cancer patients in India indeed incur heavy out-of-pocket expenditures.
Progression of cancer in India and TS and AP
Over the last quarter of a century, the prevalence of cancer in all the Indian States including Telangana has progressed exponentially. Based on the ICMR study, incidence rate of cancers for 1 lakh population in Telangana in 1990 was 54 patients and by 2016, it rose to 72.
In Andhra Pradesh, the incidence rate of caners for 1 lakh population in 1990 was 58 percent and by 2016 it rose to 76 patients. Overall in India, the trend has been similar with the incident rate of cancers increasing from 5,48,000 cancer patients in 1990 to 10,69,000 patients in 2016.
Most prevalent cancers in Telangana
The most common kind of cancer in Telangana among both the sexes is stomach cancer followed by cancers of breast, lung and oral cavity. Among women, breast cancer is the most common cancer followed by cervical and stomach cancer. Among males, the most common kind of cancers is lung, followed by oral cavity and stomach.
Women suffer more
Interestingly, the incidence ad fatality rate of cancers among women is high when compared to men. Based on the ICMR state-wide cancer study, in 2016 the incidence and fatality rate for a 1 lakh population among women in Telangana was 83 and 59 respectively. Among males, the incidence and fatality rate among of cancers in 2016 was 61 and 50 for a lakh of male population.