(HealthDay News) – Most cancer-related deaths in India occur in those aged 30–69 years, with tobacco-related cancers accounting for a considerable proportion of cancer-related deaths.

Rajesh Dikshit, PhD, from the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India, and colleagues assessed the causes of 122,429 deaths assigned by 130 physicians; the deaths occurred in 1.1 million homes in 6,671 small areas chosen to be representative of all parts of India.

The researchers found that cancer caused 7,137 of the deaths, corresponding to 556,400 national cancer deaths in 2010; 71% of these deaths occurred in those aged 30–69 years. The three most fatal cancers for this age range were oral, stomach, and lung in men, and cervical, stomach, and breast in women. Tobacco-related cancers represented 42 and 18.3% of male and female deaths, respectively, causing twice as many oral cancer deaths than lung cancer deaths. Similar age-standardized cancer mortality rates per 100,000 were seen in rural and urban areas, but there was great variation between states and according to education status. Compared with Hindu women, cervical cancer was less common among Muslim women.

“Prevention of tobacco-related and cervical cancers and earlier detection of treatable cancers would reduce cancer deaths in India, particularly in the rural areas that are underserved by cancer services,” the authors write. “The substantial variation in cancer rates in India suggests other risk factors or causative agents that remain to be discovered.”

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