The global cancer burden is estimated to have increased to 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Presently in India, it is a major cause of morbidity and mortality.
Most of the cancers are preventable by controlling the modifiable risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, etc. In addition, a significant number of cancers can be cured by surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, especially if they are detected early.
Objective: Determining doctors perception of cancer diagnosis and treatment
A total of 100 doctors participated in the survey – General practitioners (59%), Otolaryngologists (17%), Others (24%)
- Majority of the doctors (48%) stated that most patients come for cancer treatment at stage 3, while 39% stated that they come in stage 2
- When asked the most common factor related to delayed diagnosis of cancer, 60% of doctors stated it is due to lack of awareness of the symptoms and 33% of them stated it is due to the patient seeking late medical care
- More than half of the doctors (55%) feel that the new staging system for cancer, based on the immune system (iTNM system) could provide a clear assessment of the disease extent and simplify decision-making in practice, while 41% of them were not sure about it
- 72% of the doctors stated that most of the patients adhere to the follow-up care plan while a few (28%) stated that patients do not adhere to it
- When the doctors were asked how government or stakeholders can bring change, 33% of doctors stated by making screening mandatory as per age and risk factors followed by mass level screening (24%), organizing awareness events (22%) or awareness through TVC (15%)
- In the USA, Medicare pays for annual screening mammography in women aged 40 or older. Similar guidelines are available for screening cancers in the rest of the world
India lacks the set standards for screening and early detection of any cancer. Apart from tobacco-related cancer awareness, there are no national-level cancer awareness programs that are available in India.
Concerns such as patients reaching doctors at the late stage of cancer, patients not being aware of cancer symptoms, etc can be tackled only with robust screening policies for early detection and early diagnosis of cancer.
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