Common Cancers in Indian Women

The 5 most common types of cancer in Indian women account for 47.2% of all cancers. These life-threatening types of cancers can be prevented if detected and treated at an early stage. To ensure that, it is important to go for annual cancer screenings. This would not only reduce the mortality rate but improve the quality of life after undergoing rigorous cancer treatment. Here is a list of the 5 most common cancers affecting India women to be aware of:

Breast Cancer

It is the most common cancer affecting women in India. It accounts for a whopping 27% of all cancers. Reportedly, 1 in 28 women could develop breast cancer. In the rural areas, the number is on a relatively lower side with 1 in 60 women at risk of developing cancer but in the urban areas, it is about 1 in 22 women. Females of any age can develop this cancer and with age the risk increases.


  • Inward turned nipples
  • Lump in one or both the armpits or breasts
  • Soreness in the nipples or breasts
  • Discharge from nipples
  • Change in the shape and size of the nipples or breasts


A woman with a family medical history of breast cancer needs to be more careful. It is easier to treat breast cancer if diagnosed at an early stage. It is important for women over the age of 40 years to go for annual breast cancer screening with mammograms.

Self-examination is the best way to feel the lumps or any other abnormalities in the breasts or armpits. It is required of every woman to check for any variation in size or shape of the breasts. Any odd change should be reported at once. A woman must do self-examination once every month.

Cervical Cancer

It is the second most common cancer found in Indian women. Cervical cancer accounts for about 22.86% of all cancer cases in Indian women. Rural women are at more risk of suffering from cervical cancer than urban women. This is most common in sexually active women. Cervical cancer is most commonly caused due to the presence of Human papillomavirus or HPV, which is a sexually transmitted infection. Other causes of cervical cancer include tobacco use or smoking, AIDS or HIV, poor nutrition, genital infection, giving birth to multiple children, weak immune system, multiple sexual partners, long term use of contraceptive pills.


In its early stages, cervical cancer does not show any symptom. However, with the advancement of cancer, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sex
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding during sex, after menopause or between periods


Practice safe sex by using condoms to lower the risk of infection and getting this cancer. Avoid or quit smoking to prevent cervical cancer. Go for PAP tests and follow up with the doctor on abnormal pap smears. It can also be prevented by going for HPV test getting vaccinated for certain HPV infections. It is advisable not to use birth control pills for a prolonged time to prevent cancer of the cervix. Maintain a healthy body weight by exercising on a regular basis. Eat a healthy diet with more fruits and vegetables included in it.

Oral and Lip Cancer

It is one of the most common cancers affecting Indian women. It accounts for about 4.3% of all cancers in women in India. About 80% of oral and lip cancer is caused due to tobacco use. Women over the age of 50 years are more prone to get affected by this cancer.


  • Small lump formation inside the oral cavity along with thickening of its inner lining
  • Erosion surrounding the gums and lip areas
  • Loss of sensation inside the mouth
  • White or red patches in the mouth or throat
  • Bad breath and loosening of teeth
  • Problems in speech
  • Severe and unexpected weight loss
  • Painful sores and patches


Maintaining proper oral hygiene is a must to prevent oral cancer. Visit a dental hygienist or dentist regularly and conduct a self-examination of the inside of the month once a month.

Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco and also limit alcohol consumption. It is important to exercise regularly, eat cancer-fighting foods.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer mostly affects women when they are 35 years old and reaches a peak when they are between the age of 55 and 64 years. Ovarian cancer affects those women who never had children or those who had children after 30 years of age. Moreover, women with a family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, HNPCC or Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colon Cancer are susceptible to this cancer.


  • Pelvic pain
  • Digestive problems
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Feeling a sense of urinating all the time


Regular health examinations and going for relevant tests could help in identifying ovarian cancer.

Colorectal or Colon Cancer

Women with a family history of colon cancer, suffering from inflammatory bowel disease or having polyps in their rectum or colon are more at risk of developing colon cancer. Other causes of colon cancer may include being overweight, having high-fat content foods especially derived from animals, being inactive and smoking. Women between the age group of 40 and 45 years are mostly affected by colon cancer.


  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Abdominal or belly pain or cramping
  • Blood in the stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Change in bowel movements like constipation, diarrhea, and narrowing of the excreta.
  • A feeling of unclear bowel movement


One should make important lifestyle changes and start eating healthy foods that include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Also, start taking Vitamin D and calcium enriched foods or supplements. Maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption and no smoking could reduce the risk of colon cancer. Limit the intake of red meat and exercise on a regular basis to remain physically active in order to prevent colon cancer.


Your life is not to be taken for granted especially with the increasing incidence of cancer in women. Going for cancer screening once a year after the age of 40 years is highly suggested to detect and getting treatment for this disease at an early stage. With Nightingales by your side, you have the opportunity to get screened for cancer at the comfort of your home. We offer cancer screening test package that includes 8 tests to detect a number of commonly causing cancers in women. Give us a call without any further delay to book our cancer screening test package.


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4. Murthy NS, Shalini S, Suman G, Pruthvish S, Mathew A. Changing trends in the incidence of ovarian cancer – the Indian scenario. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2009;10(6):1025-30. PubMed PMID: 20192577.

5. NCRP – Consolidated Report of Hospital Based Cancer Registries 2007-2011, National Cancer Registry Programme (Indian Council of Medical Research), Bangalore, 2013

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