Cancers in North East States

Blog by Shariq Haider NaqviThe incidence of cancer is on the rise in the northeast states. Aizwal district has a cancer incidence of 277.2 per 1, 00,000 male population: 231.5 per 1, 00,000 female population whereas Delhi has an incidence of 110.3(male):118.7(female) and Mumbai 983(male): 101.7 (female) per 1, 00,000 population. Mizoram has reported a high number of tobacco consumers among children below 15 yrs-67.1 % (make smokers) 60.3% (male chewers), 22.1 %( girls smokers), 60.7% (girls chewers) whereas the national percentage is 33.1% (male smokers), 28.3% (male chewers), 2.5% (girl smokers) and 12.4 % ( girl chewers). The monthly expenditure on pan, tobacco, etc is Rs 16.08 per person (National) whereas for North East states it is Rs 33.41 per person.

As per records available in the Department of Radiotherapy, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal, the Department has diagnosed and treated 1679 cancer cases during Jan 2005 to March 207. There was 236 lung, 167 cervix, 88 breast, 6 stomach and 73 gall bladder cancer cases. Maximum number of cases is encountered in the age group of 31-50 years 51-100years.

In the northeast tobacco is socially acceptable and used as an appetizer, laxative and a substance that improves energy and concentration. Tobacco is offered to guests and friends and allowed in various religious ceremonies and occasions. Tobacco is chewed and held in the check or lower, lip in the form of betel, quid, zarda, khaini etc .Tobacco smoking is commonly used in hukka, bidi and cigarette.

Surveys have revealed that people living in kachha houses (78.6%0 with surface water (46.0%) for drinking and cooking purposes and using pit toilet (67.0%) and wood (68.8%) as fuel face the maximum problem of non-communicable diseases. People having low% of media facilities and low earning capacity, have less awareness of health care facilities. All this is true of the northeast states.

Besides, the northeast is mainly composed of hills with a small area of valleys. The median distance in km is 3.6 (primary Health Care Center) 8.7 hospital, 4.21 (dispensaries).

smoking killsTo control this scourge of cancer in the north states, it is necessary to send out clear cut awareness messages that contain risk factors, preventive measures, ways and means for recognizing cancers. It is also imperative to bring down the cancer by means of changing life style, reduction in consumption of tobacco (smoking and smokeless), alcohol and drugs etc.

People should also be made to recognize and understand the seven warning signals of cancers, a lumps or hard area in breast, some change in a wart or mole, a regular change in digestive and bowel habits; regular cough, excessive loss of blood after the usual dates, blood loss from any wound, swelling or sore that does not get better and unexplained loss of weight.