World Cancer Day 2018: 5 key trends in head and neck cancer


In India, a majority of the cancers are presented once they have advanced to stage three or stage four. Only 12.5% percent of patients come for treatment in the early stages due to gaps and challenges faced in periodic screenings and early detection. In addition, many hospitals are not properly equipped to provide adequate treatment for cancer. Ensuring palliative care and therapy is also essential as these ultimately lead to the most favourable outcomes. Not just this, there is no much awareness about different types of cancers in India. Head and neck cancer is one such type of cancer that requires attention because in the recent times there have been numerous changes in the trends of this type of cancer in India. Dr Surender Dabas, Director, Department of Surgical Oncology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh shares some key trends in head and neck cancer.

#1. Head, neck and lung cancers are widespread in India due to tobacco consumption. They constitute 25% – 30% of all the major cancers in the developing world including India. Breast, pancreas, prostate and lung are the major cancers in the developed world. Did you know head & neck cancer is the most common cancer among Indian men?

#2. Oral submucous fibrosis is a pre-malignant condition that affects the oral cavity. It is a disorder limited to the Indian subcontinent. 84.4% of patients who developed OSMF are often less than 35 years of age.

#3. Tobacco is a key cause of cancer. It is consumed in multiple forms, both smoked and smokeless. It is also available in paste form to be applied topically to the gums or inhaled. 60% of the population consumes smokeless tobacco, 25% use smoked tobacco and 15% consume both the forms. Here’s more on common causes of head and neck cancer.

#4. Pan, gutka or pan masala combined with loose tobacco have a high content of areca nut and are the main cause of the steep rise in oral cancer in India.

#5. 15 – 20% patients in India present themselves with such advanced symptoms that they can only be provided with palliative care. Also read about few common symptoms of head and neck cancer.

Tobacco cessation and early detection aim toward curbing the rising burden of oral cancer in India. Also, customized approaches can also help to improve tolerability and affordability of treatment.

 Source: Shutterstock

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