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Cancer has claimed more lives in last 10 years than 30-year war

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Monday, 15 January 2018 00:00

  • 10,000-15,000 cancer cases identified in Sri Lanka annually
  • Oral cancer leading cause for morbidity and mortality
  • Breast cancer most common cancer afflicting women, cancer of lip, oral cavity and pharynx more common among males

By Shannon Jayawardena

While measures have been taken to minimise the number of deaths caused by cancer, it has been reported that 10,000-15,000 cancer cases are being filed in Sri Lanka every year, leading to a rapid increase in the mortality rate due to the disease, according to statistics from the country’s Cancer Registry.

In 2000, there were 10,925 cancer patients of whom 5,130 were male and 5,795 were female. However, in 2010 the numbers rose to 16,963, of whom 7,993 were male and 8,970 were female.

While oral cancer is a leading cause for morbidity and mortality, in 2010 14.3% of all reported cancers were oral cancers and at present it accounts for three deaths per day. Chewing betel is the primary cause for oral cancer among the elderly whereas addiction to tobacco and areca nut is the cause for cancer developing at a young age which is very common in Sri Lanka. Excessive use of alcohol also contributes towards the development of cancer.

Oral cancer is often preceded by oral potentially malignant disorders (OPMD). The existence of oral leukoplakia and oral sub mucous fibrosis in Sri Lanka is denoted as 26.2 and 4.0 per 1,000 patients annually.

A total of 80,000-10,000 patients were estimated to have died during the 30-year period of the war in the country, whereas during the last 10 years a total of approximately 138,000 deaths were reported, of which 75% were due to cancer-related diseases. Cancer on average claims around 20,000-25,000 lives a year.

There are over 200 types of cancers that have been identified as of now, varying from adrenocortical carcinoma, bile duct cancer, bladder cancer, brain tumors, bone cancer, stomach cancer, testicular cancer, head and neck cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, etc.

Leukemia, brain cancer, Lymphoma, eye and adnexa, bones, joints and articular cartilage of limbs, connective subcutaneous and other soft tissues, thyroid, ovary adrenal gland, bone joints and articular cartilage are the most commonly treated cancers in Sri Lanka.

Statistics from the Cancer Registry show that breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women whereas in males the more common cancers are of the lip, oral cavity and pharynx and is followed by cancer in the tracheal bronchus and lungs, larynx, bladder, colon, rectum and prostate as well as lymphoma. Oral cancer is one of the leading causes for morbidity and mortality in Sri Lanka.


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