Awareness about cancer screening continues to be low amongst the people of Arunachal Pradesh, with only 5.6 per cent of the population aware of it, according to data revealed by a recent survey.
The ICMR-NCDIR monitoring survey of cancer risk factors and health system response in northeast region found that only 5.6 per cent of people in Arunachal Pradesh it surveyed were aware of cancer screening. Among those, 5 per cent of men were aware of it while 6.2 per cent of women knew about cancer.
Even fewer people had undergone any screening themselves.
The survey found that only 0.6 per cent of people in urban areas had ever undergone oral cavity examination for cancer, while in rural populations it was 0.2 per cent.
It also found that only 1.4 per cent of women in urban areas had undergone breast cancer screening while it was only 0.2 per cent in rural areas.
The figures were even lower for women who had undergone cervical cancer screening – 0.3 and 0.1 per cent in urban and rural areas respectively.
Among those surveyed, 36.1 per cent said that they use some form of tobacco (across all categories) and 28.7 per cent consumed tobacco daily. Amongst those who consumed tobacco, 22.7 per cent had attempted to quit.
It also found that 45.2 per cent of people surveyed were subject to second-hand smoke at both home and workplace.
Around 56.1 per cent of the surveyed population said that they had never consumed alcohol while 36.7 per cent said that they had consumed alcohol in the past 12 months. Additionally, 11.5 per cent said that they had been engaged in “heavy episodic drinking”.
The survey defined heavy episodic drinking as those who drink around “six standard drinks (equivalent to 60 grams of pure alcohol or ethanol) in a single drinking occasion in the last 30 days”.
The survey also found early onset of cancer among men in urban areas. The mean age of cancer patients at diagnosis was found to be 30.1 among men and 43.2 years among women.
It also noted that “high intake of preserved, salted, fermented, smoked foods; high use of chewing tobacco; high exposure to secondhand smoke at home and workplace” were some of the causes of cancer-risk in the state.
The study also said that there is “poor health system response and preparedness” with low screening of diabetes, hypertension, and common cancers. It also said that there is poor health treatment seeking behaviour and that the majority of cancer patients sought treatment outside the state.
The cancer data was collected through the Population Based Cancer Registry (PBCR) situated at the Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences Hospital, near here, and the Bakin Pertin General Hospital at Pasighat in East Siang district.
The survey was undertaken as a part of cancer research in the North East Region (CaRes NER), a multi-disciplinary programme run by the ICMR-NCDIR Bengaluru to prevent and control cancer in the north-eastern states.