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Why cancer strikes more women than men in India

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Why cancer strikes more women than men in India

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Soutik BiswasIndia correspondent
Indian cancer affected woman attends an International Women's Day celebration for patients of the Cancer Patients Aids Association in Mumbai, 08 March 2006.Image copyrightAFP Image captionCancers in women have a higher chance of survival

For oncologists worldwide, India can look like a puzzling outlier when it comes to cancer.

For one, despite reporting more than 1.5 million new cases every year, India's cancer rate remains lower than, say, the economically advanced US. That's about 100 cases per 100,000 people compared with 300 in the US.

This may be easier to explain: Indians are a vastly younger people and as people get older, the chances of getting cancer get higher. But survival rates are poor - barely a third of patients survive beyond five years or more after being diagnosed with the disease.

What is more difficult to explain is why more women in India are diagnosed with cancer than men, according to a new study published in The Lancet Oncology. Men report a 25% higher incidence of cancer than women all over the world, but India bucks this trend.

Sharp rise

Having said that, more men die of cancer in India than women.

But that is because breast, cervical, ovarian and uterine cancer, that account for more than 70% of the cancers in women in India, allow higher chances of survival on treatment. Indian men suffer largely from lung or oral cancer - both related to smoking and ingesting tobacco - which are more virulent with lower survival rates.

Breast cancer is now the most common cancer among women in India, accounting for 27% of all cancers among women. Oncologists say there has been a sharp uptick in cases in the last six years.

At 45-50 years, the peak age of onset of breast - and ovarian cancer - in India appears to be a decade younger than the peak age (above 60 years) in high-income countries. This could be due to genetic and environmental factors.

An Indian woman cancer patient (R) carries a box containing a hair wig donated by a health care company after an event as part of International Women's Day celebrations at Kidwai Cancer Institute in Bangalore on March 7, 2015. Hair-loss is one of the many side-effects of chemotherapy, which results in a loss of self-esteem in cancer patients and the gesture of donating them wigs was to boost their morale.Image copyrightAFP Image captionBreast, cervical, ovarian and uterine cancer account for more than 70% of the cancers in women in India

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-43539369

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women in India tend to put themselves last in terms of nutritious food if poor . Men as main breadwinners are given best and first choice then kids then the wife/mother , this means in poorer families mothers will go hungry to enrich their kids plates . So they are more likely to get cancers as their immune systems are less supported , the fact they are genetically built stronger allows them some protection and also explains the higher male death rate ...however everywhere is worsening becaus e of environmental pollution

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