One person in India dies from cancer every 50 seconds. Hundreds of thousands more face surgery and years of treatment—driving a quarter of their households into poverty and making cancer the disease most likely to impoverish, according to the World Bank.
Breast cancer is gaining in alarming ways. A decade ago, it moved ahead of oral cancer, in which India ranks No. 1 worldwide, to become the country’s fastest-growing malignant disease. India will lose $20 billion in economic output from 2012 to 2030 as a result of breast cancer, the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston projects.
More than 115,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. The few treatment centers that track survival say 52% of breast cancer patients in India are alive after five years, a 2010 study published in The Lancet found. That pales in comparison with the 89% survival rate in the US and the 82% rate in China.
In India, breast cancer typically strikes women at age 45 to 50—more than a decade earlier than in the West.