The announcement responds to a disease which is growing in India. Already, cancer is the country’s second biggest killer after heart disease whilst India accounts for the third-highest number of cancer cases in the world behind the United States and China. By 2040, cases are expected to number twenty lakh, compared to 11.6 lakh cases in 2016.
The cancer registry will enable authorities to understand the prevalence of the disease in the state and address an information gap. Reliable statistics on cancer in Rajasthan are considered unavailable by experts. As such, this can frustrate public health interventions targeting high-burden areas, as a senior health department official acknowledges.
“The cancer registry will come as a tool for us to know more about its prevalence,” they said. “Through the registry, we will be able to know which types of cancer has high prevalence and which part of the state is reporting the highest number of cases.” This will guide policy formulation as to prevention and treatment, the official added, stating “cancer is one of the leading causes of death. We have to fight against it.”
Even as reliable is data unforthcoming, it is known that Rajasthan’s cancer incidence is increasing. This was reported earlier this year by an International Classification of Diseases-coded Registry of Cancer developed by an oncology specialist hospital in the state. However, as was noted at the time by Dr S. G. Kabra, director of clinical services at Bhagwan Mahaveer Cancer Hospital, “unless the state government makes cancer a notifiable disease, reliable comprehensive statistics of the disease will not be available.” As such, the newly announced cancer registry could plug the data gap.
With cancer a dominant public health threat in India, it is clear that more needs to be done to capture reliable information about the disease at the central, state, and district levels. With the cancer burden expected to increase in the coming years, initiatives such as Rajasthan’s cancer registry will become valuable implements in this fight.