Prevalence of cancer among younger population increases in India; Breast cancer affects women and men get lung cancer most: Apollo report – News Healthcare


Not only is there a sharp rise in the number of cancer cases in India, but their average age of incidence has also gotten significantly younger, Apollo Hospitals revealed in its latest ‘Health of Nation’ report on Thursday.

The report sheds light on the concerning rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India, including cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and mental health issues, all of which significantly impact the nation’s overall health. Particularly alarming is the escalating incidence of cancer in India compared to global rates. According to the report, this trend is making India the ‘cancer capital of the world.’

The report further predicts a potential surge in healthcare burdens due to conditions such as pre-diabetes, pre-hypertension, and mental health disorders manifesting at increasingly younger ages. Highlighting the importance of regular health screenings, the report underscores their role in reducing blood pressure (BP) and body mass index (BMI) levels, thereby lowering the risk of cardiac-related ailments. Apollo’s data further finds that while there continues to be a need to increase the penetration of health checks in India, people are increasingly choosing more comprehensive health checks today than before, a positive step towards safeguarding one’s health and wellness.

“The significant rise of non-communicable diseases, especially over the past few decades, represent a profound shift in the global health landscape, posing formidable challenges to individuals, communities, and nations. Innovation in preventive healthcare and boosting accessibility must become a priority for the entire healthcare industry. At Apollo Hospitals, we are actively integrating technology to break healthcare delivery barriers to offer highly personalized and effective services. From our AI-backed preventive healthcare program to a vast screening footprint, we are committed to leveraging the power of technology to improve disease prevention, increase the accuracy of diagnoses, and create world-class patient-centric treatment methodologies that shape the future of healthcare. As we navigate the complex challenges of the 21st century, let us recognize that health remains our most valuable asset and a healthy population serves as the bedrock of a prosperous and resilient society,” Dr Madhu Sasidhar, President & CEO, Apollo Hospitals said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the hospital group also announced that it has launched India’s first digital health risk assessment called ‘ProHealth Score’.

Designed to assist people in making informed decisions for themselves, the ProHealth score serves as an essential tool for assessing your health and well-being, it claimed.

This free risk score evaluates factors such as family history, lifestyle, and current symptoms, it generates a personalized numeric indicator of your health status. Additionally, it provides simple corrective measures to guide you toward better health, it added.

With India experiencing rapid economic and lifestyle changes, there is a surge in Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory ailments, and cancer, which account for 63% of all deaths in the country, the report revealed.

By 2030, these diseases are projected to cost India $3.55 trillion in lost economic output. However, proactive preventive measures can help mitigate these effects. Individuals must take action to protect themselves, their families, and their communities from the escalating burden of NCDs.

The ProHealth risk score aims to raise awareness about the contributing factors to this health crisis and advocate for proactive measures to address the growing impact of NCDs on the population, it stated.

Key findings from Health of Nation 2024 report

Rise of NCDs

  • Not only is there a sharp rise in the number of cancer cases in India, but their average age of incidence has also gotten significantly younger.
  • Most common cancers in order of occurrence in India are Breast, Cervix and Overy in women and Lung, Mouth and Prostrate in Men.
  • The median age for cancer diagnosis in India is lower than other countries. According to Apollo findings, average age of diagnosis of Breast Cancer in India is 52, while it is 63 in USA and Europe. For Lung Cancer, the average age of diagnosis in Apollo is 59 years, whereas it averages to around 70 years in the west.
  • At Apollo Hospitals, 30% of colon cancer patients are aged less than 50 years.
  • Despite these trends, cancer screening rates in India remain very low. Breast Cancer screening in India is 1.9% against 82% in USA, 70% in UK and 23% in China. Cervical Cancer screening in India is 0.9%, against 73% in USA, 70% in UK and 43% in China.
  • Prevalence of obesity is rapidly growing, and it is also increasingly emerging as the most common risk factor for all chronic NCDs
  • 3 in 4 of the people undergoing health checks at Apollo were either obese or overweight
  • Obesity incidence has increased from 9% in 2016 to 20% in 2023
  • Apollo also observed that 90% of women and 80% of men had a higher waist to hip ratio than recommended, including nearly 50% of people with normal BMI.
  • All obese people (BMI >25) had a higher visceral fat level than recommended. Even among those with normal BMI (<25), nearly half (46%) of them had higher
  • visceral fat levels than recommended.
  • Hypertension incidence increased from 9% in 2016 to 13% in 2023. 2 of 3 Indians are also moving toward high pressure, with 66% in pre-hypertensive stage.
  • Apollo data also finds that 1 in 10 people have uncontrolled diabetes today and 1 in 3 are prediabetic.
  • Traditionally, >45 years of age is considered as a risk factor for pre-diabetes, but data reveals that 1 in 5 persons below the age of 45 had pre-diabetes.
  • High proportion of Indians are also at risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • From amongst 5,000 persons who were screened for parameters on sleep, 1 in 4 persons were at a high risk
  • Men were at double the risk (30%) of OSA than women (15%)
  • Depression too gets younger and more prevalent
  • From amongst 5,000 people who were screened for depression, 1 in every 10 had depression.
  • What is worth reckoning is that the percentage of depression is highest amongst those in the age category of 18 and 25, where 1 in 5 were depressed.
  • 80% of young adults (18-30 years) and seniors (>65 years) reported significant stress levels
  • Stress increased the risk of hypertension by 1.5X
  • It also increased the risk of diabetes by 2X in women and 3X in men

Road to prevention

  • Regular health checkups help in better managing the health parameters
  • Those who got health screenings more than three times in the last five years managed to significantly lower their HbA1C, BP and BMI levels.
  • ‘Nudges’ from health experts or coaches showed progress
  • Obesity: In a group of nearly 17,000 people tracked for 21 months, about half lost weight, with an average loss of 4 kg and a BMI decrease of 1.6 kg/month
  • Hypertension: 70% with high blood pressure and 20% with slightly elevated blood pressure at the start saw improved levels. On average, systolic and diastolic blood pressures dropped by 24 mmHg and 15 mmHg, respectively.
  • Diabetes: In a smaller group of about 8,000 people, 40% reduced their HbA1C levels over 21 months. For those diagnosed with diabetes initially, 60% lowered their HbA1C by an average of 1.45 mmol/mol.


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