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Throat Cancer cases choking India

Let us know few facts first:

  • India contributed 90% of oral cancer cases every year
  • In India, tobacco alone is responsible for 1.5 lakh cancers, 4.2 million heart diseases, 3.7 million lung diseases every year
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death accounting for 7.6 million deaths worldwide
  • More than 60,000 cases of throat cancer are diagnosed every year.

A recent report prepared by experts of National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW) to study the harmful effects of gutka specified clearly that India alone accounted for 86 per cent of the total oral cancer figure across the world.

More disturbing is the finding that chewing tobacco and gutkha contribute to 90 per cent of oral cancer cases in the country, with the Health Ministry now banking on the successful implementation of the 2011 notification which banned the use of tobacco in gutkha by describing gutkha as a food product and saying that food products cannot contain nicotine. Not only this WHO reported that, cancer the leading cause of death accounting for 7.6 million deaths worldwide.

Cancer is indeed a lifestyle disease and Cancer as we all know is a set of diseases in which abnormal cells grows, multiplies and divide uncontrollably in the body. These abnormal cells form malignant growths which are called tumors. Throat cancer refers to the cancer of the voice box, the vocal cords, and other parts of the throat, such as the tonsils and the oropharynx.

Case Study: Deepak Khurana, 38 years old working with an IT firm noticed a little swelling on the right side of upper neck. He ignored that first. He was a chain smoker since 20 years; he started smoking when he was in college. Slowly and steadily that mild swelling became a small lump. He visited doctor and it was a casual visit but later when his lump grown about 2cm and it was persistent, so after certain tests it was confirmed that Deepak has Throat cancer.

Dr. Vikas Goswami, Sr. Consultant Oncologist from Fortis Hospital explained that “throat cancer is much prevalent in India. Young generations exposure to cigarettes and moreover number of cigarettes they consume; tobacco consumption in the form of hukkahs etc is the main cause for Throat Cancer. Apart from this HPV virus related cancer is also the cause for Throat cancer it is because young generation’s exposure to risky sexual practices”

Further he explained that “throat cancer is a cancer that forms in tissues of the pharynx i.e the hollow tube inside the neck that starts behind the nose and ends at the top of the windpipe and larynx which is also called voice box”.

Larynx and pharynx cancers are the third most common cancers diagnosed in Indian males after lung and oral cavity cancer. More than 60,000 cases of throat cancer are diagnosed every year.

“You can certainly decrease the risk of throat cancer by not chewing tobacco, by quit smoking or limits the consumption of alcohol” added Dr Goswami.

Symptoms of developing throat cancer are:       

  • A cough
  • Pain or difficulty in swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • Changes in your voice, such as hoarseness
  • A sore throat
  • Sudden weight loss
  • A lump in the neck are the common symptoms of throat cancer.

Do check with the cancer specialist doctor if you notice any of the above symptoms

Risk factors of Throat Cancer are:

Throat Cancer is usually caused by excessive use of tobacco or consumption of alcohol. Men are more prone to throat cancer as compared to women. Tobacco is by far the most common cause of throat cancer. “Both smoking and ‘smokeless’ tobacco (tobacco chewing) increases the risk of throat cancer. Heavy alcohol use and diet low in fruits or vegetables are the other factors associated with the development of throat cancersaid Dr  Goswami

Throat cancer has also been linked to other types of cancers. In fact, some people diagnosed with throat cancer are diagnosed with esophageal, lung, or bladder cancer at the same time.

Treatment for Throat cancer

There are many treatment options available in India for Throat cancer. The treatment plan totally depends on the number of factors including the site of disease, stage of the disease, the person’s age and general health. The patient and doctor should consider and discuss each treatment option carefully.

Radiation therapy: This therapy uses high-energy rays to destroy malignant cancer cells. It would target any cancerous cells left behind by the tumor. Radiation therapy not only provides good tumor control rates but also helps in preservation of organ form and function i.e. speech and swallowing.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a drug that kills and slows the growth of malignant cells. It not only kills cancer cells throughout the body, but also enhances the action of radiation.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is also known as biologic therapy, It is used to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses substances either made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function. It helps in stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells.

Quick tips suggested by Dr. Vikas Goswami:

  1. First of all target Plant based diets: Eat generous amounts of vegetables and moderate amounts of fruit try including vegetables, fruits, salads, beans and cereals in your diet. They have cancer fighting agents in the form of antioxidants, phyto chemicals and micronutrients. Have a combination of each and every fruits or vegetables like Tomatoes, watermelon, oranges, papaya, spinach, cabbage, berries, grapes, mangoes etc.
  1. Stay hydrated: no matter what always stay hydrated even if you are not feeling thirsty. Keep your fluid level high; drink water throughout your day. Staying hydrated will help to prevent any headaches or exhaustion you might normally have during working hours also drink green tea several times a day.
  1. Always have the opportunities to move: Forget formal exercise routine if it doesn’t work for you & move. Even a simple 10 minute walk in the chilled morning or in the middle of the day in your pencil heels counts.
  1. Last but not the least please do adopt a healthy lifestyle by quitting smoking and alcohol which not only lowers the risk of throat cancer, but also reduces the chances of developing new secondary cancers in already treated patients.

Inputs by Dr. Vikas Goswami, one of the distinguished Medical Oncologist and Sr. Consultant at the prestigious Fortis Hospital and International Oncology Services (IOSPL). He has done his MBBS from the famous Maulana Azad Medical College, MD (Internal Medicine) from Gandhi Medical College and DNB fellowship in Medical oncology from the well known Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital and Research Institute and has more than 10 years of experience in the field of oncology.

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