India's Rising Breast Cancer Rates Cause Researchers to Analyze Why

 Michael Sydes
  Aug 08, 2018

One in 22 women in India will develop breast cancer, and a third of those who do develop it won’t survive. If that isn't alarming enough, the growing number of patients diagnosed with breast cancer tends to be in the earlier ages, thirties and forties.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers globally, representing 25% of all cancers in women worldwide and in India, which has the third-highest rate of cancer after China and the United States, breast cancer cases are increasing. Each day, there are around 2000 new cases of cancer detected in Indian women, and one-fifth are breast cancer. What's more concerning is that more than 50% patients of breast cancer present in stages 3 and 4, which means a less desirable outcome than earlier stages.

It is estimated that by 2020, breast cancer could kill more than 75,000 Indian women - causing more deaths than any other cancer. This is a staggering statistic. By comparison, the survival rate for breast cancer among women in Australia and the United States is 90%.

Why is breast cancer on the rise in India? Dr. Lee Schwartzberg, Executive Director of West Cancer Center, a leading oncology research and treatment practice, and oncology scientific lead at George Clinical, says the increase is likely due to a number of factors.

"There are various risk factors associated with breast cancer. These include being less physically active, consuming alcohol or having an unhealthy diet. For women, having fewer children or having children later in life might also increase risk”.

Over the last few decades, India has experienced rapid economic development and is set to become the world's fourth-largest economy in less than five years. This new prosperity may be one of the reasons behind the country's increase in breast cancer. Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in higher-income countries, and this trend is now being seen in India.

A booming economy has enabled more Indian women to pursue education and careers, and women in urban parts of India have fewer children and breastfeeding less. These are both reproductive factors associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. An increase in a typical ‘Western’ diet among Indians may also be to blame for rising cancer rates, as being overweight or obese is another cancer risk factor.

Recent studies have suggested delays in seeking medical care may be contributing to India’s rising breast cancer rates, due to a lack of awareness of the early signs of breast cancer or how to self-examine. This is yet another reason we stress regular exams and routine evaluations and screenings for women. Indian women may also have limited access to appropriate information on breast cancer.

Among women in rural areas of India, cultural factors may be behind delayed medical treatment, with some women dependent on family members to seek health care, or reluctant to see male doctors. Surveys of Indian women suggest more than 45% feel it is challenging to promote breast cancer awareness due to social taboos around reproduction and sexuality. Standard breast screening rates are low across India.

"Increased awareness around early detection and treatment is vital to improve breast cancer survival rates," says Dr. Schwartzberg.

"An improvement in access to regular breast screening, and greater public awareness about the importance of self-examination are needed to tackle to the burden of breast cancer among Indian women."

George Clinical is a leading independent Asia-Pacific based clinical research organisation (CRO) with global capabilities differentiated by scientific leadership, innovation, and extensive investigator networks. With staff operating in 15 countries, George Clinical provides the full range of clinical trial services to biopharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostic customers, for all trial phases, registration, and post-marketing trials. For their Oncology offerings, George Clinical works closely with scientific leaders from West Cancer Centre, a US-based leader in care and research, and combines this scientific and clinical leadership with an expert trial delivery capability to create a distinctive world-class service.

India's Rising Breast Cancer Rates Cause Researchers to Analyze Why

Michael Sydes

Michael Sydes is Business and Marketing Manager for George Clinical, George Clinical is a leading independent Asia-Pacific based clinical research organisation (CRO) with global capabilities differentiated by scientific leadership, innovation, and extensive investigator networks. With staff operating in 15 countries, George Clinical provides the full range of clinical trial services to biopharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostic customers, for all trial phases, registration, and post-marketing trials. For their Oncology offerings, George Clinical works closely with scientific leaders from West Cancer Centre, a US-based leader in care and research, and combines this scientific and clinical leadership with an expert trial delivery capability to create a distinctive world-class service.

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