PUNE, MAY 18 (AGENCIES): Cancer is becoming increasingly common in developing countries. In fact, it is predicted that in India by 2025 there will be a 500% increase in cancer incidence, 280% will occur due to aging and 220% due to tobacco use, say experts.
“That tobacco use either in the form of chewing (a habit peculiar to our country) or by smoking is injurious to health is commonly known. Yet the addiction of both tobacco and its products is so powerful that it is an extremely difficult habit to give up. The key therefore lies in educating children in schools and colleges as this addiction starts at young age. The two most common cancers in India which are caused by tobacco are cancers of the head-neck region and lung cancer,” said medical oncologist Shona Nag.
Over 200,000 cases of head neck cancer are diagnosed in India every year compared to only 30,000 in the United States. Head-Neck cancers make up almost 25% of all cancers detected in India and pose a significant health problem. Furthermore the disease is diagnosed in advanced stages when it cannot be cured and 2/3rd of patients eventually succumb to it. “Men are affected three times as commonly as women. Head-Neck cancers include cancers of the cheek, tongue, and other parts of the oral cavity, the throat and upper part of the foodpipe. It occurs more commonly in the lower socio-economic class and is related to the indiscriminate use of tobacco - use of lime with betel leaf and betel nuts, smoking, gutka and even alcohol,” Nag said.
The sign that there may be a problem is when one finds an ulcer in the mouth or tongue which does not heal or there are red or white patches on the sides of the mouth. These could be pre-cancerous and require immediate attention. A doctor should be consulted if a change in voice or difficulty in swallowing is noticed.