Faizan remembers vividly how his father, Nazir Ahmad, was “fine and healthy” days before he was diagnosed with lung cancer at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) in February 2017.
Till his admission to the hospital he hadn’t shown any signs of the deadly diseases.
But within days Ahmad’s condition deteriorated.
“There was nothing that we could do. He went downhill very quickly and couldn’t even swallow food. He would cry with pain. Only heavy doses of pain killers could let him sleep. We flew to Delhi and outside states for best possible treatment,” said Faizan.
But Nazir died a year later. He was one of 507 patients who were detected with lung cancer in 2017 alone. Lung cancer has the highest incidence of all cancers in the state, pushing esophageal cancer that afflicted the highest number of cancer patients in the past to second spot.
Dr Sheikh Aijaz, former head of department of medical oncology at the SKIMS believes that the “real picture” of cancer in Kashmir would come to fore only after population-based cancer registry was started. He expressed concern over the sudden rise in the number of lung cancer cases.
“It (lung cancer) is the deadliest cancer in the world. The biggest reason for its rise here could be the high prevalence of smoking,” he said and added that due to better diagnosis more cases are being detected.
He insisted that creating awareness about deadly consequences of smoking was a key to bringing lung cancer cases down in future.