Death by Tobacco

560 316 Shefali Sabharanjak

Every now and then, we read news of how countries are ranked by their presence in various groups – most expensive, most corrupt, most livable cities, development index and so on. Here’s what we might read in the next five years:

# India has a spot in countries with highest number of oral cancers

# Bladder cancer has overtaken oral cancer to take the pole position in tobacco-related cancers

# Pollution? Don’t worry about it! Bladder cancer will get you first

Jokes apart, the incidence of tobacco-related cancers is not to be taken lightly. If one looks for some numbers, estimates suggest that by 2020, ~30 % of all cancers are going to be tobacco-related cancers. Tobacco is consumed in India in chewable and inhalable forms. Moreover, the popularity of chewable tobacco variants like gutkha, never dies down despite having carcinogenic additives in it. The top four countries that have the highest consumption of tobacco products are Russia, China, India, and USA.

When one thinks of tobacco related cancers, lung and mouth cancer are the first ones to pop up in our heads. However, bladder cancer is also one amongst the cancers caused by intake of toxic substances from cigarettes as well as chewable tobacco products. In fact, it ranks 6th in the list of most common solid cancers in India. Although treatment modalities are available and are rapidly evolving as well, ~20% of bladder cancer patients present with recurrent as well as metastatic (spreading to other tissues) disease.

Bladder cancer has claimed the life of a famous actor, in the recent past.

Is bladder cancer preventable? Certainly. Giving up tobacco consumption is the best way to avoid suffering from bladder cancer. Dietary intake of lycopene (mainly found in tomatoes), vitamin A, vitamin C, and garlic is also thought to help prevent bladder cancer. Importantly, early detection of bladder cancer has better odds of recovery.

A case of bladder cancer was sent to Strand for genetic analyses in 2017. Our tests led to the identification of the genetic profile of the tumor thereby supporting the choice of an appropriate therapy. Additionally, we also developed a liquid biopsy assay to monitor the health of this patient. You can read the entire story here.


Shefali Sabharanjak

All stories by: Shefali Sabharanjak