Infections cause 1 in 6 cancers worldwide
NEW DELHI: One in five cancers in India are being caused by infections with viruses, bacteria and parasites. Of the 9.5 lakh new cases of cancer in India in 2008, 2 lakh cases were caused by infections.
In comparison, worldwide , 1 in 6 cancers are being caused by infections. Around 49% cases of Hodgkins Lymphoma , 77% of liver cancers, 88% of anus cancers, 74% of Non Hodgkins lymphoma, 70% of cancer cases in the vagina and half of all penis cancers were due to infections.
A Lancet study says of the 27 cancers in 184 countries, around 16% were infectionrelated , with the fraction of cancers related to infection about three times higher in developing than in developed countries (22.9% vs 7.4%).
Many infection-related cancers are preventable, particularly those associated with human papillomaviruses (HPV), Helicobacter pylori and hepatitis B (HBV) and C viruses (HCV). These four main infections are together estimated to be responsible for 1.9 million cases, most of which are gastric, liver and cervical cancers.
Cervical cancer accounted for around half of the infection-related burden of cancer in women and in men liver and gastric cancers accounted for more than 80%. "Infections with viruses, bacteria, and parasites are one of the biggest and preventable causes of cancer worldwide. Application of existing publichealth methods for infection prevention, such as vaccination , safer injection practice or antimicrobial treatments could have a substantial effect on future burden of cancer worldwide," said Catherine de Martel and Martyn Plummer from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, France, lead authors of the study.
Interestingly, common view is that cancer is a noncommunicable disease (NCD). The study authors added, "The 2011 UN high-level meeting on NCD highlighted the growing global agenda for prevention and control of NCDs. But although cancer is considered a major NCD, a sizable proportion of its causation is infectious and simple non-communicable disease paradigms will not be sufficient." Goodarz Danaei from Harvard School of Public Medicine added, "Their estimates show the potential for preventive and therapeutic programmes in less developed countries to significantly reduce the global burden of cancer and disparities across regions and countries."
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