State’s cancer cases in 30-plus age category rise over 4 times

Health Dept Says Increased Cases Due To More Screening

Chandigarh: The burden of breast, cervix, and oral cancers has mounted to more than four times among Punjabis aged 30 and above, and these results from the screening done at non-communicable diseases’ (NCD) clinics worry the health experts about the loss of productive years.

The state health department screened more than 14.5 lakh individuals from April to December in 2022 and found 6,200 or 0.42% of these people with signs of these three common cancers. A year ago, the count was 1,140 individuals out of 11.3 lakh, or 0.1%. Cancer’s rate of incidence rate of is higher among the wo men. The male-to-female ratio stands at 1,079:1,215 in every 1 lakh population, across age groups, while the crude ratio is 101.6:127.7.

Hypertension top NCD

Hypertension remains the most prevalent NCD in Punjab, affecting almost 1.8 lakh or 12% of more than 1.4 lakh individuals screened between April and December 2022. This is a condition in which the blood pressure shoots up too high without symptoms. Also, 1.4 lakh or 9.8% of those screened had diabetes. Opportunistic screening of the 30-plus is done at the NCD clinics in district and subdivisional hospitals, besides community health centres, while population-based screening is done through the ANMS (auxillary nurses and midwives) and the CHOS.

The health department has attributed the uptick in the case to increased screening. Dr Sandeep Gill, heads of the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases, and Stroke (NPCDCS) in Punjab, said that: “Screening was increased for the timely detection of cancer and referring the suspected cases to the secondary and tertiary-care centres for confirmatory diagnosis and further treatment. Punjab has 19 cancer hospitals 10 private and 9 public on its panel.

About the state’s special projects for cancer care, Dr Gill claimed that the district hospitals and medical colleges had thermal devices for cervical cancer detection and training the gynaecologists and nursing staff. Punjab is the first state to offer free breast cancer screening, which is safe, non-invasive, non-touch, and radiation-free.


Cancer also bankrupting Punjab’s poor, middle class PB


Bathinda: Cancer is also eating up the earnings of Punjab’s poor and middle-class families, besides killing their loved ones. The assistance of up to Rs 1.5 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Cancer Rahat Kosh has failed to reach many patients.

Sitting by his 9-year-old daughter who has blood cancer, labourer Mithu Singh of Rattolan village near Sunam said at Faridkot’s Guru Gobind Singh Medical College Hospital that: “I have spent more than I had on her treatment, and even had to pull my 11-year-old son out of school. No assistance has come to me for 2 years.” Baljit Singh of Hardaspura village in Barnala district brought his wife, Jasvir Kaur (45), to the hospital in 2019 for the treatment of bone cancer. He had to quit his driver’s job to take care of her.

More cancer patients in the radiodiagnosis and chemotherapy wards have similar stories. Even though Punjab’s cancer incidence has dipped a little in the last few years, it has ruined the affected families. Faridkot’s Bhai Ghanaiya Cancer Roko Sewa Society, which attends to the patients visiting the city’s medical college, claims that the government needs to simplify the application procedure for assistance.

NGO president Gurpreet Singh Chandbhaja said: “Many poor families fail to get this help for want of documentation or have no one to help them out due to illiteracy and poverty. We try to support them but have limitations. If the process is simpler, they can apply independently.” Sometimes, the cost of treatment eats up all the assistance, if the prescribed medicines are unavailable in the government ho spitals.