Cancer cases could increase by 12% in next 5 years, tobacco-related cancers to contribute 27.1% of cancer burden: ICMR

India’s cancer cases could increase by 12% in the next five years, with 1.5 million people projected to suffer from the non-communicable disease by 2025, up from 1.39 million in 2020, according to data based on current trends from the cancer report by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The National Cancer Registry Programme Report 2020 was released on Tuesday by ICMR and National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR), Bengaluru.

The Report also reveals that in 2020, tobacco-related cancers are estimated to contribute to 27.1% of the total cancer burden, and the highest of this will be in the North-eastern region of the country. Cancers of the gastrointestinal tract and breast are projected to be the next most prevalent.

Among men, cancers of the lung, mouth, stomach and oesophagus were the most common. For women, breast and cervix uteri cancers were the most common.

The Report provides trends and information related to cancer incidence, mortality and treatment in India in 2020, based on data collected through a network of population and hospital-based cancer registries across the country. There are 28 Population Based Cancer Registries and 58 Hospital Based Cancer Registries that ICMR is running to generate cancer data.

The cancer incidence (new cases) in men is estimated to be 679,421 in 2020 and 763,575 in 2025. Among women, it is estimated to be 712,758 in 2020 and 806,218 in 2025.

Breast cancer in women is estimated to contribute 200,000 (14.8%) and cervix cancer cases about 75,000 (5.4%), whereas for both men and women, cancers of the gastrointestinal tract is estimated to contribute 270,000 (19.7%) of the total cancer burden.

Cancers of lung were diagnosed at a stage of spread to distant sites, while cancers of head and neck, stomach, breast and cervix were in higher proportions with loco-regional spread, finds the report.

A combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy continues to remain the main stay of cancer treatment in the country. All three forms are usually tried in cancers of breast and head and neck, while cancer of cervix was treated mainly with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. For cancers of the lung and the stomach, systemic therapy was the mode of treatment.


  • India is likely to have over 17.3 lakh new cases of cancer and over 8.8 lakh deaths due to the disease by 2020 with cancers of breast, lung and cervix topping the list
  • ICMR predicted that in 2016 the total number of new cancer cases is expected to be around 14.5 lakh and the figure is likely to reach nearly 17.3 lakh new cases in 2020.
  • Over 7.36 lakh people are expected to succumb to the disease in 2016 while the figure is estimated to shoot up to 8.8 lakh by 2020. Data also revealed that only 12.5 per cent of patients come for treatment in early stages of the disease
  • Cancer of breast with estimated 1.5 lakh (over 10 per cent of all cancers) new cases during 2016, is the number one cancer overall. 
  • Cancer of the lung is the next with estimated 1.14 lakh (83,000 in males and 31,000 in females) new cases during 2016 and 1.4 lakh cases in 2020.
  • "Cancer of the cervix is the third most common cancer with estimated 1 lakh new cases in 2016 and about 1.04 lakh during 2020. Cancers associated with the use of tobacco account for about 30 per cent of all cancers in males and females," the ICMR said.
  • Among males, there was also a significant increase in the cases of cancers of colon, rectum and prostate in Bengalore, Chennai and Delhi while among women there was a significant increase in the rate of cancers related to breast, uterus, ovary and lung.
  • One woman dies of cervical cancer every 8 minutes in India
  • For every 2 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, one woman dies of it in India 
  • As many as 2,500 persons die every day due to tobacco-related diseases in India 
  • Smoking accounts for 1 in 5 deaths among men and 1 in 20 deaths among women, accounting for an estimated 9,30,000 deaths in 2010 
  • Estimated number of people living with the disease: around 2.5 million
  • Every year, new cancer patients registered: Over 7 lakh
  • Cancer-related deaths: 5,56,400