Head and neck cancer on the rise - Make Sense Campaign
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Sample this. The biggest killer of all types of cancers in men has been that of the lip and oral cavity, more commonly known as head and mouth cancer. Bad lifestyle habits, such as smoking and chewing of tobacco, are seen to be the major causes. According to a recent Globocan report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), as many as 16.1 per cent of all new cancers diagnosed in men in our country last year were those of the lip and oral cavity.

The report looked at cancer in a total population of 13.54 crore people—about 11.57 lakh new cases of cancer were reported in 2017. Not only this; nearly 8 lakh people lost their lives to this disease last year.

In the last 15 years, cancers of the head and neck have become even more fatal. Experts say that the actual number of cases in the country may well be much higher, as a large number of cases still go undiagnosed or unreported.

Head or neck cancers affect more men than women. For men alone, there were 92,000 new cases of throat and tongue cancer last year, whereas for women, cancer of the breast saw 1.6 lakh new cases, accounting for nearly 28 per cent of the new cases. Cervix cancer came next with about 97,000 cases, followed by ovarian cancer, which accounted for about 36,000 new cases, according to the Globocan study.

In the case of men, the next common cancer is that of the lung, which saw about 48,000 new cases and accounted for 8.5 per cent of all cancers last year, followed by stomach, colorectum, and oesophagus at 6.8 per cent (about 38,000 cases), 6.4 per cent (about 37,000 cases) and 5.9 per cent (34,000 cases), respectively.

Over the years, oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) has become a major health problem, both in developing and developed nations.

Two main causes are the consumption of tobacco and alcohol—at least 75 per cent of head and neck cancers are attributed to these. Another cause is the practice of keeping paan in the mouth.

Poor oral and dental hygiene and poor diet, both seen more in the low socioeconomic strata, are also small contributory factors.

What makes the cancer even more dangerous is that it is often diagnosed late. In a majority of cases, the disease is detected when the person is more than 50 years old.

The symptoms of head and neck cancer include a lump or soreness in the mouth which is not healing, difficulty in swallowing food and liquids, and a sudden change in voice.

These symptoms could be caused due to other reasons too, so make sure you immediately consult a doctor.

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