The Tamil Nadu Cancer Registry Project (TNCRP) has found that the Age Standardised Rate (ASR) of mouth cancer among women in Thanjavur district — 9.2 per 1,00,000 women — was the highest in the world.
“We suspect it to be due to rampant tobacco chewing among women. Use of chewable tobacco is high among women in districts such as Thanjavur, Nagapattinam and Tiruvarur,” said R. Swaminathan, associate director, professor and head of the Department of Epidemiology, Bio-Statistics and Cancer Registry, Cancer Institute, Adyar.
The TNCRP Report 2020 was released by Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar in the presence of Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan and chairperson of Cancer Institute, Adyar, V. Shanta on Monday.
The incidence of breast cancer observed in Chennai — ASR of 46.4 per 1,00,000 women — was the highest in India while incidence of cervical cancer observed in Perambalur (ASR of 37.6 per 1,00,000 women) was also the highest in the country.
“Another important finding is about large bowel cancers that were thought to be not so common 10 years ago. It is now among the top five cancers in many districts of the State. This is a cause for concern as it is related to diet. Good screening is available and there is a need to take this forward,” he added.
In districts such as Ramanathapuram, 70% to 75% of patients with cancer visited neighbouring districts for treatment.
In Erode, which is considered a semi-urban district, 50% patients went to the neighbouring district for treatment, raising the need to make available health services within the region, he said.
The report that has data from 2012-2016 and estimates up to 2020 provides district-wise cancer incidence, age group and gender-wise, and common cancers. According to the report, nearly 66,000 new cancers were diagnosed every year in the State, with the estimated new cancer burden being around 78,000 in 2020.
Cancer incidence was higher among women than men — 94 per 1,00,000 women and 75 per 1,00,000 in men. The common cancers among women were those afflicting breast, cervix, ovary, large bowel and mouth while it was stomach, mouth, lung, large bowel and tongue among men.
“Data from the TNCRP will be a major component in framing cancer policies and cancer control programmes,” said Dr. Shanta. She raised the need to continue surveillance activities. “The entire project was done by the institute with no cost to the government,” she added. TNCRP, a collaborative study by the institute and the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Tamil Nadu, was the largest cancer registry in the world, covering eight crore population and the first of its kind in the country.
The Health Minister said the TNCRP report would serve as a record for the government, and would help in framing cancer control measures in the State. “For instance, the common cancers in women were of the breast, cervix and ovaries. The district-wise data in the report will guide the government,” he said.
Mr. Radhakrishnan said the registry would go a long way in ascertaining the causes of mortality and stages of cancers.