A comparison of breast cancer in India with western nations like the US gives a good idea of the trends it is following. This comparison is obtained from Globocan Data, the latest of which is for the year 2008. You can find it HERE. The following charts and tables are followed by a discussion on them.
From the tables above, few points are very evident as follows:
In the US, breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women and 1 in 8 women in the US have a chance of developing breast cancer in their life time. In India, the overall incidence of breast cancer is less as comapred to the US; some workers have put it around 1 in 30 or so. But if you see the actual number of cases, India is not far behind. In the year 2008, there were about 1,82,000 breast cancer cases reported in the US, whereas in India, 1,15,000 new cases were diagnosed. This implies that, though, because of India's population, the percentage of total women affected seems less, the breast cancer burden in India has almost reached about 2/3rds of that of the US and is steadily rising.
In the tables, there are two columns: 'incidence' and 'mortality'. Incidence tells us the number of new cases of cancer in that year, and mortality tells us the number of deaths in that year. A ratio between the incidence and mortality gives a good idea of how long do the patients survive on an average. For US, we have 1,82,000 new cases and about 40000 deaths (ratio 4.5:1, meaning about 1 death for 4.5 new cases detected). For India, we have 1,15,000 new cases and 53000 deaths. This maens a ratio of about 2:1, which indeed is bad (1 death for every 2 cases detected). As the treatment of a cancer evolves, as more and more early cancers are detected, the mortality becomes less and less, though the incidence may rise, leading to an change in ratio. India's ratio tells us, it has a long way to go. Since more patients turn up in later stages, they do not survive long irrespective of the best treatment they may get, and hence the mortality is fairly high. The successive review of these figures over next ten or twenty years give us an idea whether we are detecting cancer early, are our health programmes working, etc.
From the above two images, I wish to highlight the dismal reporting of cancers in India and the need to work on that front. Also, the estimate may be less from what is in real experience, as quite a lot of breast cancers are treated in small hospitals or nursing homes (and many of them being inadequately treated), and will never be reported. So the number of breast cancer cases in India may be actually higher than what is estimated to be.
India is experiencing an unprecedented risein the number of breast cancer cases across all sections of society, as are also other countries. There is no way we can prevent breast cancer, but we can definitely detect it early and treat adequately. Achieving this is a society will lead to better long term survival as well as a better quality of life.