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  HEAD AND NECK CANCERS Dr  Ritu  K.Sheth 2010-05-26 04:19:19  

Head and neck cancers are one of the most common cancers in our country. The speciality encompasses a wide range of tumours that occur in the head and neck region, including the nasal passages, sinuses, mouth, throat, larynx, salivary glands and thyroid gland.

The incidence of head and neck cancers is more common in males, more so, in our country where the use of smokeless tobacco is more common, e.g. ghutka, masher, khaini, nasal snuff of tobacco etc. Besides this, the use of alcohol alongside has a multiplying effect. Those who have a family history of head and neck cancers require screening for the same on a regular basis.

The government banned smoking in public places on Oct 8th 2008, but the notorious ghutka which is the major causative factor in head and neck cancers is still widely available. The age at which people consume ghutka is at times as early as 8 yrs. The Indian cancer graph looks daunting. According to a study from the New England journal of Medicine, there is likely to be one million

deaths a year in India due to tobacco alone. Currently, tobacco is responsible for one in five male deaths in middle aged men. A survey done by the Indian Dental Association found that 10-40% of school students and 70% of college students of Mumbai chew ghutka or pan masala.

Symptoms:

A sore in the mouth that shows slow or delayed healing, bleeds to touch.

Frequent nosebleeds.

Persistent irritation of the throat not responding to treatment.

Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or moving jaws or tongue

Loosening of Teeth

Change of voice or difficulty in swallowing


Types of cancers:

Oral cancer arises in the mouth. It includes the lips, gums, floor and the roof of the mouth and the front two-thirds of tongue.

Laryngeal cancers are the cancers of the voice box

Oropharyngeal cancers are found in the posterior one-third of the tongue, soft palate and tonsils

Hypophanghal cancer is found in the food passage next to the voice box

The other cancers are those of the nasal passages and the sinuses, the salivary gland and nasopharynx.

TreatmenT:

Mainstay of treatment in head and neck cancers (squamous cell carcinoma) is surgery if operable, followed by radiotheraphy or chemoradiation.Very few tumours like,

The lympoproliferative tumours can be treated with chemo radiation only.

The earlier the person seeks treatment, the better. A conservative surgery with adequate tumour removal can be done, thereby reducing the post operative morbidity.

Earlier treatment initiation definitely translates into better long term survival in most of the patients affected with head and neck cancers.

It is important for patients to be on regular screening so that the tumours can be detected as early as possible. Cancer is curable if detected early.






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