Why more Indians are getting head and neck cancers

New Delhi, June 23 (IANS): Increased consumption of tobacco and related products are driving head and neck cancer cases in India, said health experts on Sunday.

Head and neck cancer includes cancers in the tongue, mouth, and other parts of the pharynx like oropharynx, nasopharynx, hypopharynx, salivary glands, nasal cavity, larynx (voice box), etc.

"The prominent cause of oral cavity cancers is having tobacco and tobacco-related products, betel nuts and smoking, alcohol. Sometimes HPV infections also contribute to it," Pritam Kataria, Consultant, Medical Oncology, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, told IANS.

To cut down the head and neck cancers, the expert called for "strict regulations regarding the tobacco and tobacco-related products and on the intake of alcohol".

"If the tobacco and related products are taken off, the majority of the head and neck cancer incidents will come down in the end. That's a big challenge, because the awareness among the masses, and changing behaviour are some of the difficult aspects of cancer prevention," Pritam said.

Accounting for 30 per cent of all cancer cases, head and neck cancer is the most common in India and its burden is higher in the country than in the US, UK, Australia, Africa and Brazil.

In India, the number of cancer cases is rising. According to GLOBOCAN 2020, there will be 2.1 million new cancer cases in India by 2040, an increase of 57.5 per cent from 2020.

To curb the problem, Prathmesh Pai, Director and surgeon, Punyashlok Ahilyadevi Holkar Head and Neck Cancer Institute of India stressed the need to raise public awareness of the harms of tobacco, betelnut, and alcohol.

"Engage the parents and schools to prevent the adoption of these habits by the youth, public campaigns to ban the sale of tobacco, betelnut, and alcohol to the youth, ban production and sale of tobacco, betel nut, and alcohol," he told IANS.


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