Cervical cancer was the fourth most common cancer in women in 2018, ranking after breast cancer (2.1 million cases), colorectal cancer (0.8 million) and lung cancer (0.7 million), the Lancet report said.

India saw highest number of cervical cancer deaths in 2018

  • China and India account for 35% of the global cervical cancer burden, says report
  • Globally, the study found that approximately 570 000 cases of cervical cancer and 311 000 deaths from the disease occurred in 2018

NEW DELHI : India recorded the highest estimated number of cervical cancer deaths in 2018, a research paper published in the Lancet Global Health has revealed.

The report, Estimates of incidence and mortality of cervical cancer in 2018: a worldwide analysis, also said that India and China together made up more than one-third of the global cervical cancer burden in 2018, with India contributing with 97,000 cases and 60,000 deaths, while China recorded over 106,000 cases and 48,000 deaths.

China had the highest number of cases, whereas India had the highest estimated number of cervical cancer deaths.

“China and India together contributed 35% to the global burden of cervical cancer cases and deaths," the report said.

The researchers used data from 185 countries in the Global Cancer Observatory 2018 database.

Showing a clear urban-rural divide for cervical cancer prevalence in India, the report said cervical cancer trends in India have declined in urban areas, but was stable in rural parts. “Cervical cancer continues to be a major public health problem affecting middle-aged women, particularly in less-resourced countries," it added.

The researchers said the global scaling up of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and HPV-based screening, including self-sampling, has the potential to make cervical cancer a rare disease in the decades to come.

Reacting to the Lancet report, Vineet Datta, executive director, Datar Cancer Genetics, a molecular genetic research facility in Nashik, said: “Cervical cancer is a preventable disease if diagnosed earlier at a long pre-malignant phase through regular screening. Genetic elements affecting an individual’s vulnerability to HPV infection could impact the risk to develop cervical cancer. Unfortunately in India, there is a lack of awareness about the screening and a lot of shyness associated due to the invasive nature of screening."

“However modern technologies like blood-based screening for early detection and vaccination can help overcome reluctance in women to have them screened and improve survival rates," said Datta.

The researchers estimated age-standardized incidence of cervical cancer was 13.1 per 100,000 women globally and varied widely among countries, with rates ranging from less than 2 to 75 per 100,000 women. Cervical cancer was the leading cause of cancer-related death in women in most of Africa.

Globally, the study found approximately 570,000 cases of cervical cancer and 311,000 reported deaths in 2018. Cervical cancer was the fourth most common cancer in women, ranking after breast cancer (2.1 million cases), colorectal cancer (0.8 million) and lung cancer (0.7 million).

“More than a quarter of all deaths due to this eminently preventable cancer (cervical) still occur in India. The World Health Organization (WHO) statistics show that every minute, one woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer in the world. Most are not diagnosed early enough and lack access to affordable therapy," said Ravi Mehrotra, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Indian Cancer Research Consortium, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

According to the Lancet study, the highest incidence was reported from Eswatini in southern Africa, with around 6.5% of women developing cervical cancer before 75 years.