American scientists recently stirred a hornet's nest by linking bad luck to the occurrence of cancer, but Indian oncologists would rather turn the equation on its head to say that as far as cancer is concerned, it's lucky to be in India.
"Tobacco is the cause for 40% to 50% of cancers in India as it increases the risk of cancers of the oral cavity, lungs, gastrointestinal tract and urinary bladder," said Dr S D Banavali who heads medicinal oncology in Tata Memorial Hospital in Parel.
Second, as Tata Memorial Hospital director Dr Rajendra Badwe says, the rate of cancers in India is very low in comparison to the West. "The incidence of cancer is 90 per 1,00,000 persons in Indian cities and 45 per 1,00,000 in rural India. The West, on the other hand, has a rate of 350 per 1,00,000'' he said.
The happy picture does get blurry when one considers that India's population is so high that even a low cancer rate means a high number of patients. On the eve of World Cancer Day on February 4, the fact is that 10 lakh Indians get diagnosed with cancer every year while seven lakh others succumb to it.