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Home News and Update Year 2009 Kidwai Sees Rise in Tongue Cancer Cases

Kidwai Sees Rise in Tongue Cancer Cases

Times of India
19 April 2009

Oncologists are a bit worried. Not only are the number of tongue cancer cases, which have nothing to do with tobacco, seeing a rise in the last five years at the Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, treatment of the cancer is giving rise to side effects relating to speech.

The Union health ministry is trying everything to control tobacco consumption to control cancer, but non–tobacco related tongue cancer cases are increasing especially among younger generation.

Dr M Vijaya Kumar, oncology surgeon at KMIO, told `TOI’: “Five years ago we were seeing 50 patients annually, now we see more than 150. We know that due to the prevalence of tobacco–chewing habit, buccal mucosa __ tobacco–related cancer __ is common in India. But, we are seeing a steady rise in tongue cancer patients not related to tobacco.”

Dr Kumar pointed to a significant fact. “Majority of the patients don’t have a history of tobacco consumption and unfortunately its the younger generation that is most affected.”

This cancer, which was common among people in their late 50s, has started showing up among adults in their early 30’s. And unlike other oral cancers, it is not a gradually progressive one, but an aggressive disease. Most often the symptoms go unnoticed and 80% of the tongue cancer patients come at an advanced stage because of which they are exposed to both surgery and chemo–radiotherapy.

Another worrying factor is the tongue being a sensitive organ, patients suffer from side–effects of treatment like lack of clarity in speech, difficulty in swallowing/tasting food and foul smell of the oral cavity. Andsince the cancer is not confined to the organ of origin, there are also chances of it spreading to lymph nodes in the neck.

Dr Kumar said that doctors therefore work to relieve the patients of pain, offering both treatment as well as palliative care to ensure some degree of comfort.

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