What you should know about head and neck cancer

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - Hindustan Times (Jaipur) - City - - Front Page -

Around 80,000 cases of head and neck cancer af­fect­ing the oral cav­ity, buc­cal mu­cosa, lips, lar­ynx, and the hy­pophar­ynx are re­ported ev­ery year in In­dia, ac­cord­ing to stud­ies. The ground re­al­ity is even worse, and cancer of the oral cav­ity hap­pens to be the most com­mon form of the dis­ease in In­dian males. Head and neck cancer is con­sid­ered a life­style dis­ease. Un­der­ly­ing risk fac­tors in­clude smok­ing, use of smoke­less tobacco (chew­able tobacco, ki­mam, khaini etc.), gutkha, pan masala, pan, be­tel nuts (su­pari), al­co­hol, viral in­fec­tions, and di­etary fac­tors. Com­mon symp­toms are pain­less ul­cers or sores in the mouth that do not heal, masses in the neck, pain, si­nus, con­ges­tion, sore tongue, white or red patches in the mouth, and so on. Head and neck cancer can be di­ag­nosed by phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion, di­rect or in­di­rect laryn­goscopy, en­doscopy, biopsy, CT/PETCT/MRI scan. Af­ter some time of di­ag­no­sis, molec­u­lar test­ing of tu­mour is also ad­vised. The treat­ment of head and neck cancer is mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary, and has evolved with time. It’s now cur­able even at an ad­vanced stage. The main­stays of treat­ment for early stage dis­ease are surgery and ra­dio­ther­apy. The sur­gi­cal tech­niques are much more ad­vanced, cos­met­i­cally more ac­cept­able for pa­tients, and more or­gan func­tion­pre­serv­ing. Plas­tic and re­con­struc­tive surgery have helped main­tain nor­mal func­tion and pa­tient re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. How­ever, the risk of a sec­ond pri­mary cancer is high. Ad­vanced dis­eases are treated ei­ther by surgery with post­op­er­a­tive chemora­dio­ther­apy or by de­fin­i­tive chemo-ra­dio­ther­apy alone. In the re­cent years, ran­domised tri­als have con­firmed the sur­vival ben­e­fit of adding chemo­ther­apy to ra­dio­ther­apy. Cis­platin based reg­i­mens have been iden­ti­fied as the most ac­tive. How­ever, this is more ben­e­fi­cial for younger pa­tients. In un­suit­able pa­tients, tar­geted ther­a­pies have also shown good sur­vival ben­e­fits, along with ra­dio­ther­apy. The au­thor of this ar­ti­cle is Dr Aseem Sa­mar, MD, DM med­i­cal on­col­ogy, TMH Mum­bai; and con­sul­tant, Bhag­wan Ma­haveer Cancer Hos­pi­tal, Jaipur.

Dis­claimer: The ve­rac­ity of any health claim made in the above ar­ti­cle is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the con­cerned hos­pi­tal/doc­tor.

PHOTO: HTCS/SHUTTERSTOCK

Dr Aseem Sa­mar

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