A recent report by Niti Aayog, India’s policy think tank, highlights Significant Shortcomings in early cancer detection across the country.

Key findings

  • According to the report, there are “huge gaps” in the performance of health and wellness centers (HWCs) under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY). 
  • Specifically, less than 10 percent of these centers had completed even one round of screening for non-communicable diseases, including cancer.
  • However, the report reveals low screening rates among vulnerable populations, particularly those over 30. 
  • However, the report identifies insufficient investment in training them on cancer prevention and detection protocols.

Government initiatives for early cancer detection: 

  • The National Programme for Cancer Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS), 2010: Focus on early detection of cervical, oral, and breast cancers, which make up a third of all cancer cases in the country.
  • Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY): It aims to Convert 1,50,000 health and wellness centers (HWCs) into primary hubs for early cancer detection.
  • The National Institute for Cancer Prevention and Research as a training hub: This institute’s expertise should be used for cancer screening training, which can be done online.

Path Forward:

  • Early detection is crucial, as it drastically increases survival rates. 
  • The report calls for a multi-pronged approach. Frontline healthcare workers need education on cancer risk factors, symptoms, and the importance of screening. 
  • Building trust with these professionals, like ASHA workers, is essential. 


  • Increased investment in training and resources for grassroots health workers is paramount. 
  • Sensitizing ASHA workers and improving their working conditions are crucial steps. 
  • By learning from Niti Aayog’s report and taking decisive action, India can significantly improve cancer detection rates and save lives.

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