According to population-based cancer registries, in Meghalaya's East Khasi Hills district, 30.2 per cent of the women are suffering from oesophageal cancer, while about 19.8 per cent of the population in the entire state is prone to this type of cancer.
In Assam's Kamrup (Metro) district, around 18.3 per cent of the women suffer from oesophageal cancer. In Cachar district, around 8.3 per cent women are suffer from this cancer while in Dibrugarh district, the figure is around 7.8 per cent.
In Mizoram capital Aizawl, around 7 per cent women suffer from the disease.
Jagannath Sarma, head of the pathology department at the B Barooah Cancer Hospital and Research Institute in the city, said, "The number of men suffering from oesophageal cancer is more than three times the number of women. But, this type of cancer is becoming increasingly common among women these days. East Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya, besides Kamrup (Metro), Cachar and Dibrugarh districts in Assam have the highest number of oesophageal cancer cases among women in the entire northeast."
The symptoms of oesophageal cancer are difficulty or pain while swallowing, pain in the throat or back, severe weight loss, chronic cough and vomiting and coughing of blood.
He said very often there are no symptoms of oesophageal cancer at an early stage. Symptoms do not generally appear until the disease is in a more advanced stage. Moreover, there is no routine screening examination. "Using any form of tobacco raises the risk of oesophageal cancer. The longer tobacco is used, the greater the risk. Women in this part of the country consume tobacco as well as betelnut in copious quantities. In men, the disease is common due to tobacco and alcohol abuse. A diet low in fruits and vegetables, besides deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals in the body, can increase the risk of this disease," he said.
East Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya and Kamrup (Metro), Cachar and Dibrugarh districts in Assam have the highest cases of oesophageal cancer among women in the northeast.