India accounts for 57% of head and neck cancer cases - Make Sense Campaign
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Dr. Ranga Raman G

Head and neck cancer is a group of cancers that start in and around your throat, larynx (voice box), nose, sinuses, or mouth.
Worldwide, head and neck cancer is the 6th most common cancer. India accounts for 57% of the total number of cases; nearly 80,000 new cases of oral cancer are registered in the country every year.

And, the number of head and neck cancer cases is estimated to double by 2030.

One of the major causes of the disease is tobacco use. Tobacco has widespread social acceptance in the Indian community. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, the consumption rate of tobacco among adults in India is around 35%, with more men than women using it.

Out of the total number of tobacco users, 60% consume smokeless tobacco, 25% use smoked tobacco, and 15% consume both. Therefore, we need to spread awareness about the importance of quitting tobacco use.

Another major risk factor is alcohol consumption. Further, consuming alcohol in combination with tobacco in any form greatly enhances the risk of developing oral cancer.

Infection with Human Papilloma Virus, poor oral hygiene or nutrition, exposure to UV radiation, and genetic susceptibility are the other risk factors.

The symptoms include red or white patches in the mouth, swelling in the jaw, headache, blocked sinuses, pain in the mouth, breathing troubles, or pain during swallowing.

The diagnosis can be done through endoscopy, biopsy, scans or X-rays.
The treatment depends on the stage and location of the cancer. It also depends on the age of patient. The treatment options include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.

Head and neck cancer can be cured if it is detected early. Unfortunately, most of cases are identified in the advanced stages, where the chances of cure are very few.

Lack of awareness about cancer is one of the reasons for delayed treatment. The stigma and myths associated with cancer are the other contributory factors.

Rehabilitation is an important part of follow-up care after treatment. Support groups may help patients to cope with physical and emotional changes post treatment. Patients may receive physiotherapy as well as speech and swallowing therapy. Maintaining a healthy diet is also recommended.

To conclude, I urge everyone to join hands with oncologists to spread awareness about this disease.

This article has been written by Dr.Ranga Raman G, HCG Curie City Cancer Centre, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.