Bangalore sees a rise in the cases of oral cancer.
Doctors in the city have noticed a 10-15 percent increase in patients suffering from oral cancer this year. Patients usually have symptoms like bleeding and swelling of gums, sores, and painful red patches inside the mouth.
Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology reported 1299 cases for oral cancer in 2021. Dr. Bharat, an Oral Surgeon said, “Compared to the previous year there has been a definite increase. When the patient enters the clinic, first we check for the clinical symptoms for submucous fibrosis. In that condition, the patient will have the inability to open their mouth. We will check for the thickness of the Mucosa, and if we have any suspicion, we send the biopsy to the lab.”
The cost of oral cancer treatment in India ranges from Rs 2.5 lakhs to Rs 5lakhs. Affording the treatment also becomes a problem as most insurances don’t cover oral cancer. Doctors believe that the primary cause of oral cancer is consumption of tobacco in the chewing form like gutka.
Dr. Suraj Manjunath, consultant surgical oncologist, Manipal Hospital said, “Normally cancer takes 10-15 years to form, but with oral cancer its much higher due to friction and consumption in the chewing form. So, you get it at a much younger age. Less than a year (of consumption) people also come.”
Oral cancer is the most common cancer in India amongst men and the fifth most frequently occurring cancer amongst women. India contributes to one-third of total oral cancer cases in the world. It has high cancer-related mortality due to late diagnosis. The morbidity rate is also high because of a high rate of recurrence. Experts believe that the implementation of existing laws should be rigid in order to prevent the youth from tobacco consumption.
They also believe that screening should be accessible to everyone which will help in early detection. Dr. Manjunath added, “Usually, the patients are from low socio-economic backgrounds. Screening, rather than having it only at the cancer centres, it should be there at every primary health centre. Even if it is there, it is not as widespread as required.”
As April is ‘Oral Cancer Awareness Month’, oncologists are working to tie-up with dentists and dental colleges for early detection and creating awareness. They are also demanding that government and medical institutions stress on head and neck cancer, as there is a dearth of specialists.