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Table of Contents
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 411-412

Burden of cancer: The unaddressed epidemic in India

Department of Medical Oncology, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission10-Apr-2021
Date of Decision14-Apr-2021
Date of Acceptance01-May-2021
Date of Web Publication30-Jun-2021

Correspondence Address:
Parth Sharma
Department of Medical Oncology, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/crst.crst_71_21

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How to cite this article:
Sharma P. Burden of cancer: The unaddressed epidemic in India. Cancer Res Stat Treat 2021;4:411-2

How to cite this URL:
Sharma P. Burden of cancer: The unaddressed epidemic in India. Cancer Res Stat Treat [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Sep 17];4:411-2. Available from: https://www.crstonline.com/text.asp?2021/4/2/411/320296

Cancer was reported to be the leading cause of death worldwide, causing nearly 10 million deaths in 2020.[1] Between 1990 and 2016, the number of cancer-related deaths in India increased by a whopping 112% and the disease incidence rose by 48.7%. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, cancer claimed over 0.78 million lives in India in 2018.[2]

The emerging epidemic of cancer, however, has failed to bring about any policy changes in the health-care system. With a population of almost 1.4 billion, the Health Budget 2021 comprises only 2.5% of the gross domestic product.[3] Goyanka[4] in her study has described the economic and non-economic burden of cancer in India.

The study used data from the 75th round of the nationally representative government household survey of the National Sample Survey Organization on health and morbidity, titled “Social Consumption: Health,” for the year 2017–2018. This study demonstrated that the mean out-of-pocket expenditure for a patient with cancer exceeded that of patients with other chronic diseases by ₹2895 for each outpatient visit and ₹52,393 for each inpatient admission. A greater per person loss of income in both inpatient and outpatient care was seen in households with individuals affected with cancer. The monthly consumption expenditure was twice as high in cancer-affected households compared to an unaffected household. A very significant observation from this study was that the number of outpatient visits for other members of a cancer-affected household was one-fourth that for members of an unaffected family.

Private health-care facilities were preferred by a greater proportion of hospitalized and nonhospitalized patients, in both urban and rural areas.[5] The increasing privatization of the health sector is not only making cancer treatment unaffordable for the general public but also pushing a major section of the population into poverty every year. Therefore, to help the national policymakers, the authors could have separately stated the economic burden of cancer in patients going to private and government hospitals. Comparing the economic burden incurred for the treatment of chronic ailments in a government health-care facility with that in a private setup could have exaggerated the difference. In addition, the fact that the subjects in this study were not matched based on the type of health-care utilization (private or public) questions the significance of the large difference between the economic burden of cancer and other chronic ailments. The authors could have compiled a table showing the state-wise economic burden of cancer, highlighting the states which need improved cancer care facilities.

Future studies should also highlight the burden of cancer based on the type and stage of the disease; these data were lacking in the current study. Studies highlighting the long-term burden of cancer as compared to that of other chronic diseases can be conducted. This is important as cancer treatment, in most cases, lasts for only a few years, whereas treatment of other chronic ailments lasts for many years.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Sung H, Ferlay J, Siegel RL, Laversanne M, Soerjomataram I, Jemal A, et al. Global cancer statistics 2020: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA Cancer J Clin 2021;71:209-49.  Back to cited text no. 1
India is Facing a Surging Cancer Epidemic - Express Healthcare. Available from: https://www.expresshealthcare.in/uncategorized/india-is-facing-a-surging-cancer-epidemic/416744/. [Last accessed on 2021 Apr 09].  Back to cited text no. 2
Healthcare Sector: Hits & Misses from Budget 2021 - Times of India. Available from: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/healthcare-sector-hits-misses-from-budget-2021/articleshow/80670474.cms. [Last accessed on 2021 Apr 09].  Back to cited text no. 3
Goyanka R. Economic and non-economic burden of cancer: A propensity score matched analysis using household health survey data of India. Cancer Res Stat Treat 2021;4:29-36.  Back to cited text no. 4
  [Full text]  
Key Indicators of Social Consumption in India: Health, NSS 75 Th Round, July 2017 – June 2018. Available from: http:/mospi.nic.in/sites/default/files/publication_reports/KI_Education_75th_Final.pdf. [Last accessed on 2021 Apr 09].  Back to cited text no. 5


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