Younger population now falling prey to head and neck cancer: Experts

Kolkata: As much as 30 to 40 per cent of males and 11-16 per cent of females among those afflicted with malignancies in India are head and neck cancer patients, experts said here on Friday, expressing concern over the younger population now falling prey to the malady.

“Head and neck cancer patients pose a significant problem in our country, constituting 30-40 per cent of all cancers in male and almost 11-16 per cent in females and there is a need to spread proper awareness,” surgical oncologist Gautam Mukhopadhyay said here at the launch of the West Bengal Head and Neck Society.

Mukhopadhyay, a senior trustee of the society, said annually over 200,000 such cancers occur in India out of which 80,000 are oral cancers.

According to him, lifestyle behaviour like chewing tobacco, betel leaves and also smoking remain the main reasons for such a high incidence of oral and pharyngeal cancer.

The symptoms of head and neck cancer can be any persisting ulcers inside the mouth, change in voice, problem in swallowing food, a painless lump inside the neck for almost 4 weeks, chronic coughing, bleeding from ears, nose or throat and so on.

According to P.N. Mahapatra, a senior oncologist and senior trustee of the society, maximum number of mouth cancer is seen in patients after the age of 55.

“But there is an alarming trend towards the younger patient population. Malignancy of thyroid gland affecting all age groups is also rising and India stands second in prevalence of oesophageal cancer after China.”

Mukhopadhyay said the newly formed society would create awareness about head and neck cancer in the state.

“Our primary focus is on cohesive work, communication between Public and Private sector, through scientific seminars, awareness camps, conferences and workshops to give world-class facilities to patients,” he said.

Another senior oncologist Aniruddha Dam said the society would try to fill up the gap between city and district-based diagnosis of such cancers.

According to him, there is a need for a population based cancer registry for head and neck cancer, and the society aims to reach out to the maximum number of hospitals in that regard.

He also said that training of the upcoming doctors will help in early diagnosis and give the best treatment to the patients of head and neck cancer.

This year, the World Tour of International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies will be held in Kolkata from October 26-28.

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