Prashanth Fertility Research Centre

common cancer in india women

Common Cancers In Indian Women

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Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally. The top cancers that affect the Indian population are lung, breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) reports that the most common types of cancer in Indian women are the cancer of the cervix, breast, mouth/pharynx, and esophagus. Breast cancer is now the most common cancer among women in India, accounting for 27% of all cancers among women. Oncologists say there has been a sharp uptick in cases in the last six years. The projected estimated number of breast cancer cases in India by 2020 is approximately 1, 23, 534 which means breast cancer will take unprecedented prominence in the near future. The global average is 500000 cases per year and India contributes nearly 5% of that.


Late diagnosis, ignorance about signs, and symptoms of cancer and hesitation to see a doctor further complicate the situation. Cancer is mostly detected in advanced stages such as when women either have a lump or discharge from the breast. Half of the women affected with breast cancer in India see a doctor in stage 3 of the disease. It is important to stay protected against cancer by adopting a healthier lifestyle. Breast cancer cannot be prevented however if it is detected early it is easier to treat. In the past, breast self-examination was advocated to help pick up cancer early. Late age pregnancy and lactation, usage of hormonal pills, changing lifestyle, exposure to radiation, changing lifestyle are some of the reasons for the rising incidence of breast cancer. Most types of breast cancer are easy to diagnose by microscopic analysis and can be treated through pre-emptive surgery, lifestyle improvement, radiation, and medications.


There are many risk factors for cancers which include genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors including tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and infections like HIV. Tobacco contributes to 10 – 15% of cases of cancer in women. Many of the cancers are associated with diet. Cancers of the breast, cervix, ovary, and uterus together comprise more than 70 percent of the cancers that are found in Indian women. All these conditions have higher chances of survival as compared to men, who mostly suffer from lung or oral cancer due to smoking and tobacco consumption.


It is the most common cancer affecting women in India. It accounts for a whopping 27% of all cancers. Reportedly, 1 in 28 women could develop breast cancer. In the rural areas, the number is on a relatively lower side with 1 in 60 women at risk of developing cancer but in the urban areas, it is about 1 in 22 women. Females of any age can develop this cancer and with age the risk increases.


In South India, cervix cancer is the most prevalent cancer. The global average is 500000 cases per year and India contributes nearly 5% of that. Gynecologic cancers have seen an increase and contribute around 30% to the total cancers in women. The cervix cancer is closely followed by ovarian cancer and corpus uteri which affect a large number of women. Cervical cancer can be caused by a virus (Huma Papilloma Virus). A vaccine is available against cervical cancer.


Ovarian cancer mostly affects women when they are 35 years old and reaches a peak when they are between the age of 55 and 64 years. Ovarian cancer affects those women who never had children or those who had children after 30 years of age. Moreover, women with a family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, HNPCC, or Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colon Cancer are susceptible to this cancer. Regular health examinations and going for relevant tests could help in identifying ovarian cancer.


Women with a family history of colon cancer, suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, or having polyps in their rectum or colon are more at risk of developing colon cancer. Other causes of colon cancer may include being overweight, having high-fat content foods especially derived from animals, being inactive, and smoking. Women between the ages of 40 – 45 years are mostly affected by colon cancer


It is important to go for annual cancer screenings. This would not only reduce the mortality rate but improve the quality of life after undergoing cancer treatment. Make important lifestyle changes and start eating nutritious food that includes vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Start taking Vitamin D and calcium-rich foods or supplements. Maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption, and no smoking could reduce the risk of colon cancer.

The negative effects of cancer are far greater than the mere number of cases. Once a person is diagnosed with cancer, there is emotional trauma followed by the cost of the treatment that causes economic disarray and stress. We recommend women to go for regular check-ups and conduct regular diagnosis for early detection of cancer symptoms and address it to enjoy a complete life. Book an appointment with the best gynecologists in Chennai at PFRC.

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