Blood Cancer – A Growing Health Burden for India

India. a rapidly growing economy that is only second to China in terms of population. A rising growth of cancer cases in the last decade has, however, become a major public health concern for this growing nation. With nearly 1.5 million cases registered every year, the burden of diseases like cancer can have far-reaching consequences for individuals as well as have a larger impact on the social strata of the country. 


What is Blood Cancer and What Are the Main Types?



Cancer that begins in the blood-forming tissues, affecting your body’s immune system, is called blood cancer. There are mainly three types of blood cancers: Lymphoma, Leukaemia, and Multiple Myeloma, in order of rates of incidence.


What Causes Blood Cancer?




While there is no data to conclusively show that the incidence of blood cancers is rising in India, the number of bone marrow transplants being performed in hospitals is steadily increasing each year. 


The specific causes of Blood Cancer are not yet known. However, there are certain factors that contribute to Blood Cancer:


  1. Age: Different types of Cancer affect people of different range, with Leukemia being highest among children below 14 or above 40.

  2. Tobacco: Consumption of tobacco in any form can lead to cancer. It can weaken the immune system and damage or alter a person’s DNA, making it susceptible to developing cancer cells which are difficult to be controlled.

  3. Alcohol: Excessive intake of alcohol can interfere with the production of new cells in your bone marrow.

  4. Exposure to Radiation and Harmful Chemicals: With growing urbanisation and occupational changes in a growing country like India, exposure to harmful radiation and chemicals can lead to interference with your DNA, increasing your risk of developing blood cancer.

  5. Family history: If your family has had a history of haematological diseases, it is likely you will experience signs and symptoms of blood cancer as well.


Blood Cancer Statistics in India




Studies suggest that India ranks 3rd highest in reported cases of Blood Cancer, after the US and China and affects more than 70,000 men and women in the country. This growing burden is a serious concern for public health administrators in India.


While we have gained more knowledge and expertise in understanding and treating Blood Cancer, we now have challenges which are specific to a growing country. Because of our high population, the number of cases registered is lower than in the West, but the mortality rate is higher.


This is due to a number of factors such as lack of a holistic health system, low accessibility to affordable healthcare in rural areas, and lack of awareness and education on Blood Cancer.


Treatment and Prevention of Blood Cancer




Blood Cancer patients require bone marrow transplants in most cases to be able to survive and lead a longer life. The aim of the treatments of blood cancer is to cure and prolong the life of people affected by it. Due to lack of awareness, diverse gene pool, and general misunderstanding with respect to bone marrow donation, India faces a huge gap in demand and supply. Take a look at what you need to know about Bone Marrow Transplant and Donation here.


A minimum of 30% of the future cancer burden can be preventable if we take necessary measure in the early stages. From tobacco sale and consumption control, dietary changes, expansion and equal distribution of medical facilities, to awareness and education programs about risks, prevention, and bone marrow donation, a lot can be done to minimise the rise of Blood Cancer in India.

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