On ‘World No Tobacco Day’ on Tuesday, Rahul Bhardwaj, 32, is ruing the unfortunate moment when he chewed gutka for the first time. It’s because of that first indulgence that he picked up the habit 20 years ago. Now he is walking a tightrope between life and death due to throat cancer. He will talk to young tobacco consumers to abandon the “fatal habit” at a hospital in Gurgaon.
“Last year, a 24-year-old cancer patient died because she had been smoking for over a decade. Another patient who is in late 20s will undergo a disfiguring surgery to recover from head and neck cancer,” said Dr Bhawna Sirohi, head of department of medical oncology, Artemis Hearthcare.
“This can be so severe that sometime we may have to cut the tongue to save a person," said Dr Sirohi.
Oncologist Dr AK Vaid of Medanta Medicity said the correlation between tobacco and cancer is so profound that 85% patients with tongue, cheek and throat cancer have a tobacco consumption history.
“Ten lakh cancer cases are reported in India every year, and four lakh are linked to tobacco consumption,” said Dr Vaid.
According to oncologists, chewing tobacco is more harmful than smoking because the tobacco is present physically inside the mouth.
“According to Global Adults' Tobacco Survey, over 90% cancer patients consumed chewing tobacco,” said Dr Sirohi.