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Times of India
13 January 2009
By Kounteya Sinha,
New Delhi, India.

Doctors at the country’s 4,045 community health centres (CHCs) may soon get financially rewarded for detecting a cancer patient early.

Fund allocation to combat cancer will increase nearly 10 times – from Rs 266 crore in the 10th Plan to Rs 2,400 crore in the 11th Plan. Around Rs 100 crore will be set aside for conducting research especially in search of a vaccine against cervical cancer.

A new 200–bed state–of–the–art National Cancer Institute will also be set up in Chennai while the Chittaranjan Cancer Institute in Kolkata will get a second campus with around 100 beds.

These are some of the proposals that are part of the Revised National Cancer Control Programme finalized recently by the health ministry. The proposal was sent to the ministry’s Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) for approval last week. The ministry plans to submit the proposal to the Planning Commission by the end of this month.

Cancer is one of India’s worst enemies. At any given time, there are 25 lakh cancer patients in the country. It is the third biggest killer in the country, killing four lakh people every year.

Officials told TOI: “The 11th Plan will focus primarily on early diagnosis and prevention. We are planning incentives around Rs 300 for every patient screened and detected with cancer early.”

“We are also clubbing six districts in a single cluster. One chemotherapy centre is being planned for five small districts while the biggest district in the cluster will have a radiotherapy facility,” an official added.

Early detection is vital to fight cancer, especially of the breast, cervix, mouth, larynx, colon, rectum and skin. Recognizing possible warning signs of cancer and taking prompt action leads to early diagnosis.

At present in India, over 70% cases are detected at the end stage.

According to an international panel’s recent findings, Indians face an increased threat from cancer, thanks to their diet and sedentary lifestyle. Over 40% of all cancers are a direct result of our diet, physical build and exercise habits. The panel in its report, “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer” prepared after five years of analysis, made crucial recommendations that people across the globe must follow to minimize their chances of getting cancer.

However, Indians fared badly with regard to most of the recommendations. Indians consume just 130 grams of fruit and vegetable a day while the recommended amount is 400 grams. Obesity was found to be a very high predictor of various cancers. Experts recommended that people should aim to have body mass index (BMI) range between 18.5 and 24.9. Over 60% of urban males and 40% of urban females suffer from abdominal obesity. While experts recommended that salt consumption shouldn't be more than 6 gms a day, Indians consume anywhere between 10–15 grams.
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Red meat has been found to have a direct link with cancer. It’s consumption has to be limited under 500 grams a week. But over 64% Indians are now non–vegetarian consuming high amounts of red meat.

According to the Indian Cancer Society, with regular screening, 70% of cancer can be prevented. About 7–9 lakh new cancer cases of cancer are detected in India every year. Experts predict that by 2015, the number of new cases in India will cross 15 lakh.

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