Of the 6.10 lakh cancers reported between 2012-2019 under the National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP), at least 7.9 per cent were found in children below 14 years, according to a report, “Clinicopathological Profile of Cancers in India: A Report of Hospital Based Cancer Registries, 2021” prepared by the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Leukaemia accounted for nearly half of all the childhood cancers in both genders in the 0-14 years age group (46.4 per cent in boys and 44.3 per cent in girls). The other common childhood cancer in boys was lymphoma (16.4 per cent), while in girls, it was malignant bone tumour (8.9 per cent), said the report.
It consolidates data collected during the period across 96 hospital-based cancer registries under the National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP). The data pertains to all diagnosed and treated cases of confirmed malignancies reported to these centres across the country.
The country registered 13,32,207 cases of cancer during 2012-19. Of these, 6,10,084 were included for analysis, based on the completeness and quality of data. Childhood cancers rank ninth as a leading cause of childhood diseases at the global level, accounting for 11.5 million of the Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs).
In India, according to a recent NCRP report, the proportion of childhood cancers (0-19 years), relative to cancers in all age groups, was found to range from 1 per cent to 4.9 per cent. Delhi reported the highest age-adjusted incidence rate (AAR) of 203.1 per million in boys and 125.4 per million.
Apart from childhood cancer, the ICMR report says that cancers in sites associated with tobacco use comprised 48.7 per cent of cancers among males and 16.5 per cent among females.
Among all the cancers, the highest proportion of distant metastasis at presentation was seen in patients with lung cancer (49.2 per cent males and 55.5 per cent females), followed by gall bladder cancer (40.9 per cent males and 45.7 per cent females) and prostate cancer (42.9 per cent). The data has come in September which is observed as childhood cancer awareness month worldwide.
Dr Nita Radhakrishnan, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Pediatric Hematology Oncology at Post Graduate Institute of Child Health, Noida said that even though there have been several government schemes for cancer treatment, there are many who still are not able to avail any of these. “They either do not have necessary documents or are not aware of these schemes. Many stop treatment for the mere fact that there is no one back at home to support the family, “she added.”