Cancer vulnerability in an indigenous Himalayan population in Arunachal Pradesh

30 May 2022
Chaitan Kumar, Moirangthem Momocha Singh

Cancer incidence and its related mortality has been a public health concern for Arunachal Pradesh in India. However, there is a lack of evidence about the knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) for cancer risk factors, screening programmes and preventive behaviour – especially among indigenous tribal populations. A cross-sectional survey was conducted using Google Forms from 16 September 2020 to 2 January 2021 among an indigenous population of Arunachal Pradesh. Snowball sampling was used to enrol 565 participants aged ≥18 years (264 were male and 301 were female). Univariate and bivariate analyses were conducted using SPSS version 23 to test the hypothesis of KAP. (There is no difference in the level of knowledge / in the attitude / level of practice among study participants with respect to any independent (socio-demographic and other) factors.) The Papumpare Cancer Registry reported the highest cancer density among women and the second highest among men among all population-based cancer registries in India (Indian Council of Medical Research, Report of National Cancer Registry Programme, Bengaluru, India 2020). Knowledge about the cause of cancer and risk factors was poor among 23% of the respondents. Attitude towards screening was negative among 14.9%. Practice levels to prevent cancer were also low (31%). More than 50% of the cases were treated outside the state and at private hospitals. Knowledge about cancer symptoms and risk factors was limited in the population. There is a need for more effective health promotional services in the state. Mass screening facilities and behavioural change activities are required and could be disseminated through social media platforms. Our analysis of a north-eastern region of India, which has unique geographical and cultural characteristics, informs future policy designs and other related studies for controlling cancer in the area.

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