Karnataka falls behind six states including Rajasthan, West Bengal and Bihar which have already taken steps to curb tobacco consumption even as reports of a growing increase in head and neck cancer in the country.
In India, head and neck cancer is the most common and constitutes up to 30 per cent of all cancers in India. Globally, the condition is the sixth leading cancer by incidence and the 8th cause of fatality.
Annually the tobacco consumption and smoking takes away millions of young lives due to serious illnesses. On the occasion of the World Head and Neck Cancer day observed annually on July 27, the theme this year is to educate tobacco cessation and screening to ensure early diagnosis.
Dr. Trinanjan Basu, consultant, radiation oncologist, HCG Cancer Hospital, said that a nationwide uniform guideline under governmental legislative would help head and neck clinicians to manage these patients as per international standards.
Head and Neck cancer management has come a long way from being a single modality to multidisciplinary approach. The treatment protocols by National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) ushered new hope among advanced disease stages with newer drugs. It is often theoretical to advise newer targeted agents with modern radiotherapy as the availability and cost do compromise the scenario, stated Dr. Basu.
“Head and neck region is the ‘face’ of the person with important senses like vision, speech, hearing, smell, swallowing and airway. Therefore, cancer in this region, in addition to affecting these vital senses also impacts the self-esteem and quality of life of patients. The treatment for the cancer of such vital organs in addition to disease clearance should also aim at preserving its form and function, reducing the morbidity and improving the quality of life of patients, said Dr. Satish Nair, consultant, head and neck oncology surgeon, Apollo Hospitals BG.
The main modality of treatment includes surgery and radiotherapy with chemotherapy as an adjunct. Recent advances in the treatment of head and neck cancer includes targeted gene therapy. However, prevention is better than cure. Awareness among the common people should be created regarding the avoidance of smoking, alcohol, tobacco or betel nut chewing in order to lead a healthy life, noted Dr. Nair.
To control sale of tobacco products Consortium for Tobacco Free Karnataka, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Indian Dental Association (IDA), Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka, Association of Healthcare Providers India (AHPI) have urged the Karnataka government to mandate a separate Tobacco Vendor License. This is even as the Union government has taken steps to curb its consumption seriously and recommended for a separate license for sale of tobacco products. As per the recommendations 6 states including Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal, have swung into action.