According to various independent studies and the Population-Based Cancer Registry (PBCR) of India, West Bengal continues to see a surge in bladder cancer cases, putting a significant burden on the state’s healthcare ecosystem. India reports 20,000 new bladder cancer cases each year, and West Bengal stands as one of the leading states in India battling this disease. The increase in bladder cancer cases in West Bengal can be attributed to various factors, including chronic arsenic exposure in drinking water, high tobacco consumption, and overlooked symptoms, highlighting the complex nature of the challenge faced by the region. Additionally, the multitude of individuals from West Bengal working in dye factories is also contributing to this phenomenon. On this cancer awareness day, healthcare experts are urging the public for lifestyle modification and early screening to tackle this healthcare problem.
Commenting on the reasons for this surge, *Dr. Tarun Jindal, Senior Consultant, Uro-Oncology and Robotic Surgery, Apollo Multispecialty Hospital, Kolkata, said, “We came across studies from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, revealing alarmingly high levels of arsenic contamination in West Bengal. The toxicity of arsenic in water sources, particularly when undetected or untreated, is a significant concern that might contribute to the incidence of bladder cancer in affected areas. In tandem with arsenic exposure, the prevalent habit of smoking in West Bengal significantly contributes to the rising cases of bladder cancer. The increased use of tobacco products raises the likelihood of developing bladder cancer, furthering the region’s health challenges.”
“Symptoms of bladder cancer, such as blood in the urine (Haematuria), often go unnoticed or unattended by individuals, leading to delayed medical attention. It is crucial to recognize and promptly address such symptoms as they may indicate the presence of this condition. Additionally, recurring blood in the urine, especially in the absence of pain, demands immediate medical evaluation to rule out urinary tract cancers. With the advancement of medical technology, currently, there are effective treatment options for Bladder Cancer. This includes robotic-assisted surgery by advanced technologies like the Da Vinci. However, early detection is vital in treating it effectively. Hence, screenings and prompt medical evaluations for symptoms like Haematuria play a crucial role in ensuring timely diagnosis and treatment,” he added.
While commenting on other treatment options, Dr. Jindal said, “Apart from surgery, there are other treatment options such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy. However, robotic-assisted surgery stands out as a promising advancement in the treatment of bladder cancer. Using advanced technologies like the da Vinci offers unmatched precision and dexterity, resulting in shorter recovery times and enhanced outcomes for patients. Some of the other benefits of this modality is less blood loss, shorter hospital stays, quicker recovery, smaller incisions resulting in less scarring, and lower risk of infection.”
Prevention is better than cure and incorporation of healthy lifestyle habits such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate hydration. Avoiding tobacco products and limiting exposure to potential carcinogens, including chemicals in certain dyes and industrial compounds, along with regular medical check-ups and prompt attention to unusual symptoms, especially blood in urine, can help solve the condition before it progresses.
Raising public awareness about risk factors and symptoms, promoting early screenings, and ensuring access to advanced treatment options, are crucial in tackling this healthcare problem in the state.