Abstaining from tobacco consumption can help prevent head and neck cancer: Doctor

17 April,2024 12:40 PM IST |  Mumbai  |  mid-day online correspondent

Head and neck cancer constitutes 25 per cent of solid organ cancers. Cancer of the cheek, jaw, and tongue are common cancers of the head and neck

Image for representational purposes only. Photo Courtesy: iStock

It is a known fact that tobacco consumption is one of the significant causes of head and neck cancers. Dr Satish Rao, oncology surgeon, Lilavati Hospital, highlights the need for quitting tobacco in every form (cigarettes, beedis, and meisheri) and how it can keep head and neck cancers at bay.

Head and Neck cancer constitutes 25 per cent of solid organ cancers. Cancer of the cheek, jaw, and tongue are common cancers of the head and neck. The most common cause of these cancers is the consumption of tobacco and pan masala. Tobacco is either chewed in raw form or smoked in the form of cigarettes and beedis. ‘Meisheri', a form of tobacco paste is used by rubbing it on teeth - especially underprivileged and rural populations.

Common symptoms
Cancer of the tongue, cheek, or jaw usually starts as a painless ulcer that may bleed minimally upon touching. Symptoms are usually silent. Gradually, if neglected cancer grows to cause pain, difficulty in swallowing, difficulty in opening the mouth, movement of mouth bone, foul-smelling ulcer, and presence of neck nodes. These are signs of advanced cancers.

Need for more awareness of ill effects of tobacco consumption
It is imperative to diagnose cancer in its early stage, i.e. when it presents as a painless ulcer. There has to be awareness in society that tobacco consumption is the most common cause of head and neck cancer. Head and neck cancers are largely completely preventable.

The government issues warning messages on cigarette pouches and in advertisements on TV, bus stops, and social media. However, the message has to be delivered strongly. Strict implementation of ‘No Sale' of tobacco within 500 meters of educational intuitions has to be enforced. Rigorous enforcement of the ban on smoking in public spaces and offices is essential. Educating school and college students that smoking or vaping is hazardous to health will contribute a long way to preventing head and neck cancers.

The most important message of abstaining from smoking not only preventing cancer and other diseases but also improving a person's health has to be delivered to everyone from school children to adults. If tobacco consumption is minimised, head and neck cancer, which are largely preventable, will be drastically reduced.

The takeaway
Remember, abstaining from tobacco consumption is a potent way to prevent head and neck cancer. Tobacco contains harmful chemicals that can damage the cells in the lining of the mouth, throat, and voice box, increasing the risk of cancer. By quitting smoking and other forms of tobacco, one can lower the risk of these fatal cancers. By promoting tobacco cessation and implementing strict smoking regulations, it is possible to curb the cases of head and neck cancers.

Disclaimer: This information does not replace professional medical advice. Consult a qualified specialist or your physician for personalised guidance.

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