India to roll out cancer screening

2 minute read

India has announced an ambitious national screening program for cancer to begin next month


India, a nation of 1.3 billion, has announced an ambitious plan to tackle cancer, with its first national screening program.

The program, set to launch in November, will target oral, breast and cervical cancer in people between 30 and 65 years of age.

Initially, screening will operate in 100 districts but will be expanded to 80% coverage within three years, according to the operational framework.

“This initiative … can save many precious lives and improve quality of life of many more,” said Indian health minister, Jagat Prakash Nadda.

He urged states to use this framework to create the mechanisms needed to provide effective screening, care and treatment.

Under the program, people would be screened for cancer once every five years at the sub/primary centre level.

Suspicious lesions detected during screening would be referred for further examination and confirmation by a surgeon, gynaecologist or dental surgeon.

“This will be accompanied by awareness campaigns in the community,” the director of India’s National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research, Ravi Mehrotra, told the BMJ.

“The road blocks, if any, would be removed, and the lessons learnt may result in course corrections where essential.”

India accounts for 8.3% of global cancer mortality and cancer burden in India is predicted to increase to 1.5 million new cases each year by 2035.

Cancers of the breast, uterine cervix, and oral cavity make up almost 34% of cancers in India. These cancers have survival rates over 60% when detected early.

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