Burden of Cancer and Projections for 2016, Indian Scenario: Gaps in the Availability of Radiotherapy Treatment Facilities


Plausible projections of future burden of cancer in terms of incident cases and requirement of radiotherapytreatment facilities at the national and state level are useful aids in planning of cancer control activities. Thepresent communication attempts to provide a scenario for cancer in India during the year 2001 and its likelychange by 2016 for “all sites of cancer” as well for selected leading sites. Further, a study was made of: (i) thestate-wise distribution of radiotherapy treatment facilities & short falls; and (ii) pattern of investment of financesthrough central assistance by Government of India for cancer control activities during the various plan periods.The age, sex and site-wise cancer incidence data along with populations covered by 12 Indian population basedcancer registries were obtained from the eighth volume of Cancer Incidence in Five Continents (CIV-VIII) andother published reports. Pooled age sex, site specific cancer incidence rates for twelve registries were estimatedby taking weighted average of these registries with respective registry population as weight. Population of thecountry and states according to age and sex for different calendar years viz. 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016 wereobtained from the report of Registrar General of India. Population forecasts were combined with the pooledincidence rates of cancer to estimate the number of cancer cases by age, sex and site of cancer for the above 5-yearly periods. The existing radiotherapy facilities available in the country for cancer treatment during the year2006 was based on the published reports and updated through personal communication from the Ministry ofHealth of India. During the year 2001, nearly 0.80 million new cancer cases were estimated in the country andthis can be expected to increase to 1.22 million by 2016 as a result of change in size and composition of population.The estimated numbers were greater for females (0.406 millions, 2001) than males (0.392 millions, 2001). Lung,esophagus, stomach, oral and pharyngeal cancers are much higher in men while in women, cancers of cervixand breast are predominant forms followed by those of oral cavity, stomach and esophagus. Considering all thesources, it was noted that during the year 2006, there were 347 teletherapy units in the country as against arequirement of 1059. The state-wise analysis of the distribution of RCCs, and radio-therapy units shows widegaps in the availability of facilities. The existing treatment facilities for cancer control in-terms of radiotherapyand financial allocation are woefully inadequate to take care of even the present load. The only way to fight thisscourge under such circumstances is to have pragmatic programmes and policies based on currently availablescientific information and sound public health principles.