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Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2015;16(5):1953-8.

Cancer detection rates in a population-based, opportunistic screening model, New Delhi, India.

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Centre for Chronic Conditions and Injuries, Public Health Foundation of India, Gurgaon, India E-mail :



In India, cancer accounts for 7.3% of DALY's, 14.3% of mortality with an age-standardized incident rate of 92.4/100,000 in men and 97.4/100,000 in women and yet there are no nationwide screening programs.


We calculated age-standardized and age-truncated (30-69 years) detection rates for men and women who attended the Indian Cancer Society detection centre, New Delhi from 2011-12. All participants were registered with socio-demographic, medical, family and risk factors history questionnaires, administered clinical examinations to screen for breast, oral, gynecological and other cancers through a comprehensive physical examination and complete blood count. Patients with an abnormal clinical exam or blood result were referred to collaborating institutes for further investigations and follow-up.


A total of n=3503 were screened during 2011-12 (47.8% men, 51.6% women and 0.6% children <15 years) with a mean age of 47.8 yrs (±15.1 yrs); 80.5% were aged 30-69 years and 77.1% had at least a secondary education. Tobacco use was reported by 15.8%, alcohol consumption by 11.9% and family history of cancer by 9.9% of participants. Follow-up of suspicious cases yielded 45 incident cancers (51.1% in men, 48.9% in women), consisting of 55.5% head and neck (72.0% oral), 28.9% breast, 6.7% gynecological and 8.9% other cancer sites. The age-standardized detection rate for all cancer sites was 340.8/100,000 men and 329.8/100,000 women.


Cancer screening centres are an effective means of attracting high-risk persons in low-resource settings. Opportunistic screening is one feasible pathway to address the rising cancer burden in urban India through early detection.

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