Meghalaya: 1 in 17 men at risk of developing oesophagus cancer finds survey

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Rajeev Choudhury

People living in Meghalaya are seven to nine times more likely to develop cancer in their oesophagus or food pipe than the national average findings of a new survey indicate.

One in every 17 men and 36 women in Meghalaya are at the risk of developing cancer in the oesophagus compared to corresponding figures of one in 159 males and 264 females at the national level.

The survey conducted by the Population Based Cancer Registries of Civil Hospital Shillong revealed that the oesophagus is the most common site prevailing among 31.0% of males and 22.3% of female cancer patients in the state.

Among men the cancer of the food pipe is followed by that of the lower part of the throat and stomach, in females, the cervix-uteri and mouth cancers occupy the second and third position in terms of prevalence, the data further reveals.

The survey further found that over two-thirds of male and one-third of female patients reported cancer on the sites that can be linked with tobacco use.

Noting that cancer is among the top five leading causes of death in the state, the authors of the  report stated that the geographical indisposition, rugged terrain, vast hilly areas, and many ethnic groups contribute to the shortage of quality cancer-related health care facilities in the state.

The survey further found that while over 52.5% of the total population were current tobacco users, comprising 71% of men and 34% of women, more than half (66.7%) of men were current users of smoked tobacco.

Moreover, 72.3% of those surveyed said that they were currently consuming areca nut, which has been linked with an increased risk of developing white or reddened lesions in the mouth that can progress to cancer.

While the state has 145 primary healthcare centres, cancer screening facilities are available in just 13.8% of them, the authors of the survey wrote in the report.

In a virtual event marking the release of the report held recently, the Principal Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department and Chairman PBCR, Meghalaya, Sampath Kumar said that there is a need  to focus on taking preventive care measures for reducing the alarming non-communicable disease burden in the state.

Acknowledging that there is a need to improve the public health delivery system, Mr Kumar said that citizens’ cooperation is also equally essential to address the issue.

“People of the state should also invest time in understanding the causes of cancer, and how actually one can prevent cancer rather than finding solutions for treatment at a later stage,” he added.


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