CHANDIGARH, PUNJAB—The country’s food bowl is in the throes of cancer. At 90 cancer patients for every 1lakh population in Punjab, it’s more than the national average of 80 per lakh. The Malwa region of the state – known as the cancer belt – has the highest average of 136 cancer patients per 1 lakh people, reveals a Punjab government study released on Monday.
Data over the last five years has shown that, on an average, 18 people die of cancer each day. There are 23,874 cancer patients in the state and 33,318 lives have been lost in cancer-related deaths during last five years.
The Malwa region of Punjab has recorded a high of 107.4 cancer-afflicted for every 1 lakh. And, Muktsar district in Malwa has fared the worst with 136.3 patients for every lakh.
These figures were revealed after the state health department, for the first time, undertook a comprehensive door-to-door campaign to know the state of affairs in Punjab.
“I feel the country’s food bowl is paying the price for its productivity and a large number of cancer cases are due to excessive use of pesticides in the fields.” said Punjab health minister Madan Mohan Mittal.
The Malwa region, comprising Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar, Patiala, Sangrur among other districts, has recorded cancer incidence of 107.4 per lakh as against the national figure of 80 per lakh. Majha, comprising Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Taran Taran, has clocked the lowest incidence of 64.7 cases of cancer per lakh population. The rich Doaba region, including, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Phagwara, Kapurthala, has confirmed 88.1 cancer patients per lakh of population.
Punjab health secretary Vini Mahajan said the figures recorded are based on patients’ own analysis. “These are figures where people themselves have confirmed that they are suffering from cancer, or their relatives have died of it. We gave them a list of symptoms of cancer and the 85,000 people who suspect they are suffering from the disease will now be made to undergo all tests to confirm it,” she said.
“I am satisfied that things are not so bad as were made out to be,” said Mittal.