A doctor’s déjà vu moment - Make Sense Campaign
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Dr.Prashant Mehta

A 30-something man, who had a huge lump on the left side of his neck, sat down in front of me. Upon being examined, a sinister-looking ulcerated growth was spotted at the back of his tongue. The man told me that he had not been eating, as a result of which he had lost weight.

Two days later, a biopsy confirmed the presence of a squamous cell cancer.
It was a déjà vu moment for me—a young life again going down the drain on account of the momentary pleasures associated with tobacco use.

Tobacco causes different kinds of cancers, as well as heart and lung diseases. Yet, people spend a fortune on consuming tobacco throughout their lives. Is that not shocking?

Alcohol and tobacco are close companions; nearly 75% of head and neck cancer cases are related to the combined use of these two substances.

Cancer is like an unfortunate accident—it can happen to anyone. However, consuming alcohol and tobacco (chewing or smoking) is akin to standing in front of a speeding truck in the middle of the road.

Head and neck cancers generally present with non-healing/bleeding ulcers in the mouth, excess salivation, pain and difficulty in swallowing, change or hoarseness in voice, difficulty in breathing, and neck swellings. In case of such symptoms, a doctor needs to be consulted urgently. Remember that is possible to cure head and neck cancer if it is detected early.

This article has been written by Dr. Prashant Mehta, Consultant and Unit Head-Oncology/Hematoncology/BMT, Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, Faridabad.

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