Prelims level : Medicine & Pharmaceuticals Mains level : GS-II Issues Relating to Development and Management of Health
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Why in News?

  • The committee was constituted to examine an expanded role for the Department of Atomic Energy, through the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), to address India’s rising cancer burden.

Findings of the Committee:

  • The committee has identified that the “systematic failure” to address the needs of patients contributes to a 20% higher mortality among Indian cancer patients, than in countries with a high Human Development Index.
  • The Committee in its report has expressed concern that over 68 per cent of cancer patients are dying in the country.
  • The committee urged the government to expand and upgrade cancer treatment infrastructure for affordable and quality care by enlarging the network of the Mumbai-based Tata Memorial Centre.
  • It recommended a ‘Hub and Spoke Model’ proposed by the TMC to better reach out to cancer patients nationally, which is already in practice in Punjab.
    The model has a network of centres, or hubs, capable of treating complex forms of cancer, which would be connected to other centres (spokes) capable of treating the less complex variants of cancers.


  • Cancer is a complex group of diseases, in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. There are several types of cancer.

Causes of cancer:

  • Cancer is caused by changes (mutations) to the DNA within cells.
  • Internal factors, such as age, gender and inherited genetic defects.
  • Environmental exposure, for instance to radiations and fine particulate matter.
  • Occupational risk factors, like carcinogens such as chemicals, radioactive materials and asbestos.
  • Lifestyle-related factors.

Cancer in India:

  • Around 16 lakh new cases are diagnosed annually in India.
  • Cancer kills around 8 lakh people annually.
  • Among women the incidence of breast cancer, cervical cancer and oral cancer are quite high.
  • Among men, the top three cancers with the highest incidence are those in the oral cavity, cancer of the pharynx and those of the gastro-intestinal tract.
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer expects India’s cancer deaths to rise from 8.8 lakh in 2018 to 13 lakhs in 2035.
  • Two-thirds of India’s cancer patients were treated in the private sector and this forced 6 crore Indians below the poverty line because of the increased healthcare expenditures.
  • India’s National Cancer Grid is the bulwark of cancer treatment in the country, and it treats over 7,00,000 new cancer cases annually.

The National Cancer Grid (NCG) of India:

  • The National Cancer Grid is a network of major cancer centres, research institutes, patient groups and charitable institutions across India. It was initiated in 2012 with a mandate of creating uniform standards of health care across cancer institutions to reduce disparities in patient care across various geographic regions. It is funded by the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India.
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