Breast cancer has overtaken cervical cancer as the most prevalent cancer in women, a study of patients treated by a hospital in the city has found.

The Saroj Gupta Cancer Centre and Research Institute (SGCCRI) has also found an increase in ovarian cancer among women and oral cancer among men.

The hospital analysed the data of nearly 1.9 lakh patients who underwent treatment there between 1996 and 2020 to identify trends. The Cancer Outlook 2022 report by the hospital was released on Thursday.

“We found that incidence of breast cancer has increased in women and is now the most common cause of cancer in women. Twenty-five years back cervical cancer used to be the most common cancer in women. In these two decades, the load of cervical cancer cases have reduced, while that of breast cancer has increased significantly,” said Arnab Gupta, medical director of SGCCRI.

Gupta attributed the rise in breast cancer cases to lifestyle changes. He said late pregnancy was one of the reasons for the rise in breast cancer in women. Other factors were increased consumption of junk and fatty food.

Oncologists said women who have a history of breast cancer in the family should undergo regular screening. Those who are 50 years or older can undergo a mammogram that can show early signs of breast cancer. For those who are below 50, a sonography test is better, said doctors.

Surgical oncologist Gautam Mukhopadhyay said breast cancer has also been found in men, though in very few numbers. “Men should not think that they cannot have breast cancer. It is easier to detect breast cancer in men since the density of breast tissue is lesser in men,” he said.

The decline in cervical cancer can be attributed to better hygiene and awareness, Gupta said. Despite the decline, cervical cancer occupied the second position among cancers in women in the hospital’s analysis.

Doctors said that cervical cancer was preventable. The website of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that “no woman should die from cervical cancer”.

Doctors advised that women should take the vaccine against cervical cancer before the beginning of their sexual cycle. “Teenage girls can also take the vaccine. In fact, earlier the vaccine is taken, more effective it is,” said Mukhopadhyay, the clinical director of the surgical oncology department at Peerless Hospital. He was not part of the team that conducted the analysis.

Gupta said 70 per cent of the patients treated at SGCCRI were from Bengal. The rest are mostly from Bangladesh, the Northeastern states, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha.

Among men, lung and oral cancers were found to be the most common in the hospital’s analysis.

Gupta and Jyotirup Goswami, a radiation oncologist at SGCCRI, conducted the study.

Mukhopadhyay said that the trends revealed in the hospital’s analysis were similar to the findings in the National Cancer Registry prepared by the Indian Council of Medical Research. Both found breast and lung cancers as the most common types of cancer among women and men.

Doctors said that the consumption of tobacco was one of the reasons for oral cancer and lung cancer. “It would not be wrong to say that oral or head-and-neck cancer and lung cancer will reduce if tobacco consumption is stopped,” said a doctor.