Thursday, 25 February, 2021
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EDITORIAL

Cancer Prevention



Cancer is one of the major killer diseases globally. Some 100 forms of cancer have so far been detected. Studies have shown that cancer is now the second leading cause of death globally after cardiovascular diseases. Each year, tens of millions of people are diagnosed with cancer across the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cancer was responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018 worldwide. The global health body's report also indicates that about one in six deaths is caused by cancer. Low- and middle-income nations account for about 70 per cent of deaths from cancer. This is going to emerge as the number one deadly disease in most parts of the world in the years to come as there has been a remarkable progress in prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Cancer may continue to affect people with the continuation of population aging in a number of countries as elderly people are most vulnerable to it.

About one third of deaths from cancer happen because of the five top behavioural and dietary causes. They include high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use. It has also been found that tobacco use is the main risk factor for cancer as it is responsible for about 22 per cent of cancer deaths. At present, an estimated five million people die annually due to tobacco use alone. The number is projected to reach 10 million a year by 2030 if the current trend continues. Nepal has also recorded a surge in the number of patients suffering from one or other form of cancer over the years. As per a news report carried by this daily on Thursday, cancer is responsible for nine per cent of the total annual deaths in the country. Data maintained by Nepal Cancer Relief Society (NCRS) reveals that, on average, cancer kills about 45 people daily in Nepal. And more than 26,000 new cancer patients are detected in the country every year.

Like in the past, this year's February 4 was marked as the World Cancer Day with various programmes focussing on creating public awareness of this lethal non-communicable disease. Nepal also observed the occasion with the theme of ‘I am and I will do it’. As mentioned above, consumption of tobacco products has been a chief reason for a rapid rise in the number of patients suffering from cancer in Nepal as well. Even in such a situation, there has been a tendency among people of not visiting a health centre for preventive check-up. The problem is more serious when it comes to oral health. Even the educated urban people are not paying due attention to their oral health.

A study report titled ‘Non-communicable Disease Risk Factors: STEPS Survey Nepal 2019,' indicates that only 5.3 per cent of the respondents had ever visited a dentist. Conducted by Nepal Health Research Council, especially on adults, the study revealed that a whopping 97.6 per cent of the respondents visited a dentist either for consultation or treatment. Looking at this scenario, it is essential for one and all to get their oral health checked up and maintain oral health hygiene on a regular basis for preventing various problems, including oral cancer. When it comes to our health, we must follow the saying: a stitch in time saves nine. 

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