We are not supposed to keep on publishing the report,' says N K Ganguly, director-general, icmr. "We are supposed to carry out research and cannot spend money on a particular project,' he justifies. It is as if icmr's cancer data is protected under the Officials Secrets Act. Repeated requests to gain access to information fall on deaf ears. Regional registries collect information on cancer incidence and publish annual reports. But most of them do not make it public. "Please contact icmr to get the reports,' says B M Nene, chairperson, Rural Cancer registry, Nargis Dutt Memorial Cancer Hospital, Barsi . " icmr will give you the information of Delhi registry,' says Kusum Verma, project chief of the Delhi Cancer Registry.
It is not just the lack of published data that rankles but also the tortuous ways of icmr when it comes to providing information about the ncrp. A questionnaire sent by Down To Earth to the director-general of icmr was supposedly forwarded to the project coordinator who in turn forwarded it to the ncrp headquarters at Bangalore. So far, there has been no reply. "The trends do not change so quickly,' claims Ganguly, suggesting that the earlier data still holds good. But data shows that cancer trends are changing very rapidly. In Nagpur for example, a sudden rise in cases of leukemia and lymphomas in early 1990s can be seen. In Pune, during 1986-1990, cancer of the larynx in men topped the list but within the next four years, it became the third most common cancer in the city.
"Data cannot be published in the form given to us and therefore it takes time to publish it,' says Ganguly, overlooking the fact that the data is given to them in a standardised format. Even the forms for data collection were carefully designed