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World Cancer Day: Regular checkups essential for early detection of breast & cervical cancer: AIIMS Delhi Gynecologist Dr Neerja Bhatla

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World Cancer Day is being observed today. The Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year through education, raising awareness and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action against the deadly disease.

Cancer is a major contributor to global mortality, causing about 1 in every 6 deaths and affecting nearly every household. Globally, there were an estimated 20 million new cases of cancer and 9.7 million deaths from cancer as of 2022. As per the World Health Organisation, the cancer burden will increase by about 77 percent by 2050, further straining health systems, people and communities. Globally, the most common cancers are breast, lung, colon, rectum, and prostate cancer.

In 2020, breast cancer was the most prevalent cancer globally, while lung cancer led to the highest number of deaths. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research’s National Cancer Registry Programme (ICMR-NCRP), the estimated number of cervical cancer cases in India in 2023 was more than 3.4 lakh.

Former Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at AIIMS Delhi, Dr. Neerja Bhatla emphasised the need to ensure regular checkups for early detection of breast and cervical cancer. Dr. Bathla also talked about the efficacy of the indigenously produced vaccine Cervavac for the treatment of Cervical cancer.

Cancer is not only catastrophic to individual health and well-being but also a significant challenge for families and societies at large. Indeed, it has been shown that up to 50 percent of cancers can be prevented. Refraining from consumption of tobacco and alcohol, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and timely vaccinations are some of the most effective behaviours to prevent cancer.

When detected and treated at an early stage, cancer can often be cured completely. Although most cancers do not present symptoms in the early stages of the disease, some diagnostic tests (screening techniques) are sensitive enough to detect cancer even when it is invisible. This both reduces the burden of dealing with a late-stage presentation and can support successful

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