The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology and Environment was given agenda to examine an expanded role for the Department of Atomic Energy, through the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), to address India’s rising cancer burden. The committee, led by former Union Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, submitted its report to Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu.

Report by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology and Environment

  1. India’s cancer care infrastructure is “highly inadequate” and forces a majority of patients to travel “thousands of kilometres” for treatment.

  2. The inadequate cancer care infrastructure contributes to a 20% higher mortality among Indian cancer patients than in countries with a “high” Human Development Index. The Committee mentioned that the incidence ratio of 0.68 in India is higher than that in very high human development index (HDI) countries (0.38) and high HDI countries (0.57).

  3. The incidence, or the number of newly diagnosed cases of cancer annually, is about 16 lakhs. The disease kills 8 lakh people annually.

  4. Among these are 140,000 fresh cases of breast cancer, 100,000 cervical cancer cases, and 45,000 cases of oral cancer among women.

  5. Among men, the top three cancers with the highest incidence are those in the oral cavity (1,38,000 cases), cancer of the pharynx (90,000) and those of the gastro-intestinal tract (2,00,000).

Expected rise in cases

The International Agency for Research on Cancer expects India’s cancer burden to increase from an estimated incidence of 13 lakh cases in 2018 to about 17 lakhs in 2035, and cancer deaths expected to rise from 8.8 lakh in 2018 to 13 lakhs in 2035.

Hub and spoke model

The Committee recommended a ‘Hub and Spoke Model’ to better reach out to cancer patients nationally. This approach has a network of centres, or hubs, capable of treating complex forms of cancer. They would be connected to other centres (spokes) capable of treating less complex variants of cancers. The idea is to ease access and minimise travel times for patients.

Source: The Hindu

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