Jharkhand does not know the exact data of its cancer sufferers as it lacks a registry system to table the number of patients and classify the forms of the disease, even as India is set to become the global capital of the dreaded C-word by 2020.
Cancer is in the limelight again with World Health Organisation’s — IARC International Agency for Research on Cancer — making the stunning disclosure that outdoor air is polluted enough to be carcinogenic.
Jharkhand needs to worry, because even without centralised data, oncologists in Jamshedpur, Ranchi and Dhanbad hospitals that treat cancer indicate cases reported per year are rising.
But of the 10 lakh new cancer cases in India every year, the state has no accurate idea of its share. Though India’s National Cancer Registry Programme was started by the Indian Council of Medical Research in 1981, Jharkhand remains out of the loop.
Anup Kumar, associate professor (oncology), Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi, says: “It is tough to arrive at the exact number as the state doesn’t have a cancer registry system.”
Yet, Jharkhand oncologists say oral cancer tops among men and breast and cervical cancer among women.
This is hardly surprising. Users of tobacco are increasing. According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), 50.1 per cent of adults, including 63.6 per cent men and 35.9 per cent women, use tobacco in any form in the state. Cities have pollutants ranging from adulterated diesel-run autos to mines releasing coal dust and industrial smoke.
Dhanbad, in fact, figures among the 31 Indian polluted cities in the WHO database, which lists urban outdoor air pollution from almost 1,100 cities in 91 countries.
On October 21, the register of the RIMS oncology department read 1,390. The figure suggests that from January 1 to October 21, the department attended to 1,390 patients who reported to the oncology OPD with “malignancy”. On any given day, there are at least five to six new patients.
Kumar added there were days with 10 new patients. “We can’t state the number of old and new patients as there is no tracking system,” he said.
State-run RIMS in Ranchi’s Bariatu area and BCCL Central Hospital, Jagjivan Nagar in Dhanbad have chemotherapy and surgery facilities.
From RIMS and BCCL hospitals, patients who need radiotherapy are referred to either Meherbai Tata Memorial Hospital in Jamshedpur’s Northern Town, or Curie-Abdur Razzaque Ansari Cancer Institute in Ranchi’s Irba area.
“Ours is one of the most comprehensive cancer institutes in the east. Since 2009, we admitted 13,652 patients and given chemotherapy to 11,260, which means people come to us in the terminal change. We urge early reporting so that patients can be treated through radiation,” Curie-Abdur Razzaque Ansari Cancer Institute director Sayeed Ansari said.
The 72-bed Meherbai Tata Memorial Hospital in Jamshedpur, which has treated some 24,000 cases and 20 cancer types, is meticulous about data.
There were 2,251 fresh cases in 2009-10, 2,259 in 2010-11 and 2,391 in 2011-12. In 2012-13 (data is being compiled), the figure is 2,409 so far.
The hospital stays full. “We fight cancer full throttle. We arrange extra beds, host medical check-up camps and free detection clinics every alternate Thursdays,” said superintendent R. Wagchi.