The Pink Hope Patient Support Group joined hands with The International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies (IFHNOS) and Indian Dental Association (IDA) to create voice of the Head and Neck Cancer patients, an initiative to raise awareness on Head and Neck Cancer.
The Pink Hope Patient Support Group joined hands with The International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies (IFHNOS) and Indian Dental Association (IDA) to create voice of the Head and Neck Cancer patients, an initiative to raise awareness on Head and Neck Cancer. The International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies (IFHNOS) in collaboration with American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) have proclaimed July 27th as “World Head and Neck Cancer Day,” which will not only help in promoting awareness but in aiding prevention as well.
Head Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) is the main cause of death and disability in most parts of the world. The vast majority of HNSCC can be prevented or cured if detected early, but millions of people suffer from either from delayed diagnosis, inadequate treatment and inappropriate rehabilitation. The actual burden of head and neck cancer is more than just the reported cases, which has been further depicted in reports published by the ‘Net-based Atlas of Cancer in India’.
Head and neck cancer (including thyroid lesions) is third most common malignancy seen in both the sexes across the globe but is the commonest malignancy encountered in Indian males. Also oral cavity cancer is the most prevalent type amongst the males and one of the highest across the globe.
“Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world and in India constitutes 30-40 per cent of all cancers among men. The most common causes are consumption of tobacco and alcohol. Alcohol often taken together with Cigarette makes carcinogens in tobacco enter our tissues better as alcohol is an excellent solvent. Smokeless tobacco, such as gutka or paan, is a major issue in India. These agents, when taken together, increase the person’s cancer risk by eight or 10 times, accounting for 90 percent of oral cancers and 80 percent of laryngeal cancers in our population. We are mouth cancer capital of world owing to this habit. An emerging problem today is human papilloma virus in head neck cancer, especially tonsil. HPv was known to cause cervical cancer, but today even Tonsillar Cancers are increasing due to HPv infection,” said Dr. Vishal Rao – Head and Neck Surgeon.
Commenting on the issue, Dr. Deepak Haldipur – ENT Specialist, “As an ENT Surgeon, we become the first point of contact to pick up these cancers. This is because most of these cancers either affect speech or swallow in one way or other. Hoarseness of voice is first symptom in most voice box cancers, similarly difficulty in swallow or food sticking in throat for food pipe cancers. Most of these patients first turn to an ENT. We hence need to exert great vigil in diagnosis. A recent article in BMJ showed that tonsillectomies in children are declining due to use of antibiotics, but at same time Tonsillar cancers were on rise. This seems worrisome to us, as infected tonsils can become a nidus for HPV virus. Hence I tell my patients often not to abuse antibiotics.”
Head neck cancer patients are prone to develop second cancer and hence, long term follow-up is needed. Ninety per cent of oral cancers can be prevented by quitting tobacco, alcohol and betel nut. The foundation encourages advocacy for strengthening health care system and introduce community-based approaches for awareness, risks, prevention and early detection of HNSCC with the help of public awareness campaigns, group discussions by patients, families and support groups, Media coverage through interviews with experts and free screening activities, while aiding the enhancement of expertise of Physicians by upgrading their knowledge and skills through CME programs.
Present at the conference, Mr. Srinivasan – Head and Neck Survivor said, “Being a cancer survivor, I have gone through the ordeal and have come out victorious. It’s high time we share the awareness and start educating about prevention from head and neck cancer, especially from smoking and chewing. As a major burden comes out from these, I would urge the youth to learn and take a stand against tobacco.”
Photo Caption: Panelist at the World Head and Neck Cancer Day Press Conference, An initiative by HCG, IDA, IFHNOS and Pink Hope Patient Support Group.