Over 1 lakh cases of head and neck cancer in India every year - Make Sense Campaign
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Dr. Abhishek Anand

Cancers developing in or around the mouth, pharynx, larynx, nose, or sinuses are broadly referred to as head and neck cancer.

It is the second most common cancer in India. According to a latest survey, more than 1.2 lakh people are diagnosed with this disease every year.

Use of tobacco in any form and alcoholic beverages is the most common cause. It can also occur as a result of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection. So, it is important to practice a healthy lifestyle which can help prevent the occurrence of cancer.

Patients of head and neck cancer may present with a lump in the neck, swelling in the cheek, change in voice, soreness or ulcer of the mouth or tongue, bleeding from the nose or mouth, or difficulty in swallowing food. Pain in or around the ear can also be a sign of tumour growth.
Most cancers in the head and neck region can be completely cured if detected early. Therefore, if you have any of the above symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately.

In addition, tests such as biopsy, endoscopy, X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, PET-CT, and molecular testing may be done.

The treatment planning depends on the site of tumor, the stage of the cancer, and the patient’s health.

The treatment options range from surgery to chemotherapy to a radiation therapy. A combination of these can also be used.

New therapies for cancer include targeted therapy and immunotherapy, which can be used in the advanced stages. Moreover, these do not cause any of the side effects associated with chemotherapy.

Under targeted therapy, the cancer-specific protein is targeted while limiting the damage to healthy cells. Under immunotherapy, the immune system of our body is modulated to kill cancer cells.

This article has been written by Dr. Abhishek Anand, MBBS (Honours & Gold Medallist), MD (Internal Medicine), DM (Medical Oncology), Kidwai Cancer Institute, Bangalore, Ex SR AIIMS, New Delhi, Consultant Medical, Pediatric and Hemato Oncology, Narayana Cancer Center PARAS HMRI, Patna.