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India

Cancer Patients up Seven-Fold in Malwa Region of Punjab

In 2016, about 11,000 cases reported at ACI Bathinda. In 2021, the cases reported in single year went up to 82,000.

Cancer Patients up SevenFold in Malwa Region of Punjab
Cancer Patients up SevenFold in Malwa Region of Punjab (Photo Credits: Twitter)

Chandigarh: The number of cancer patients in the Malwa region of Punjab, especially southern districts of the state bordering Rajasthan have gone up more than sevenfold. This is according to the number of patients treated at the Advanced Cancer Institute at Bathinda.

In 2016, about 11,000 patients availed treatment at this cancer institute. The figures went up to 27,000 in 2017. A year later in 2018, 39,000 patients availed treatment from the ACI, Bathinda.

In 2019, the number of cancer patients reporting here went up to 48,000 and then 60,000 patients in 2020 which was a year marred by the Covid lockdown. In 2021, about 82,000 patients reported at this hospital. Ninety-five per cent of the cases here are reported from the Malwa belt.

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Experts are of the opinion that due to a combination of reasons cancer is spreading fast in the Malwa region. Increased use of pesticides, insecticides, contaminated water used for harvesting and adulteration in food are some of the reasons. The water has more than permissible limits of sodium, calcium, magnesium and nitrate.

A study carried out by the Central University of Punjab in 2018 stated that 80 per cent of the groundwater in Punjab is not fit for drinking. In Malwa, contaminated groundwater is a major issue.

According to the Director of Advanced Cancer Institute, Dr Deepak Arora, “Our outreach programmes have had excellent results. The high numbers are a cause for concern but also a relief because people are becoming aware and coming to us much in advance rather than after the situation is out of control.”

Dr Arora, who along with his team have single-handedly given hope to tens of thousands of patients who earlier used to take the cancer train to Bikaner said, “Adulterated food and water are the main reasons why cancer is rampant in the Malwa region.”

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Also, a good parallel sign is that the false conventional wisdom has now undergone a change. Earlier, people thought that the person diagnosed with cancer was bound to die, and therefore would instead of a doctor go to a healer. Now they head straight to the Advanced Cancer Institute, Bathinda.

Dr Karuna Singh, Associate Professor at the Centre Institute, tries to give a break up of the cases which are reported at their centre.”We mostly get women who have breast cancer and cervix cancer, and men who have head and neck and cancer of the oesophagus and gastrointestinal (GI), the latter happens due to tobacco chewing, smoking and alcohol but pests, insecticides use and contaminated water and food is also one major reason for GI cancer.”