Mouth Cancer is one of the biggest killers in India. It actually affects more than 5 to 8 lakh people at any point of time in the country. The annual incidence of Oral Cancer in the world, is maximum in India. India actually becomes a leader in oral cancer. More than 2.5 lakh patients are diagnosed with mouth cancer every year.
It is one of the most debilitating disease and one of the main reasons or rather the most common reason is tobacco. But there’s another common reason too, which is not very well publicised – Alcohol. These two reasons actually take patients completely down the path of a very horrifying mouth cancer and this disease not only makes the patient completely unliveable in the society but also his family suffers through, a kind of mental anguish.
Radiotherapy for the oral deformity and the facial deformity changes the complete outlook of the patient. The side effects of the treatments are everlasting on the patient. One of the change which we thought we could bring about is through education, telling people that tobacco is harmful, in almost all ways and that they should quit tobacco as early as possible. This is now being taken very seriously and you see the advertisements all over entertainment places.
Second thing which I always want to stress on is that alcohol is as equal a carcinogen as tobacco and that also has to be avoided. The social sanctioning or social prestige associated with alcohol is because of the movies and the changing Indian culture. This has probably had another boom in to oral cancer. Tobacco is the known culprit and alcohol is like the sidekick which would equally affect mouth cancer.
Another very important contribution which we think that we have done into the treatment of oral cancer is to reduce the deformity. We strive to constantly innovate ways of doing surgery for these patients, because 80 to 90 percent of patients will require some kind of surgery and this surgery will have scars over the face. Now, these scars can be avoided with a complete excellent surgery.
We do that Surgery through a skin crease, a surgery where completely nothing can be seen and one of the aids that we use is the reconstructive surgery. Here we literally reconstruct where the reconstruction is done by a tissue which is taken from some other part of the body and that part is put into the oral cavity and reattached to the blood vessels, so that it completely becomes a part of the oral cavity. The shape of the face is kept as it is because one of the most important pride a person has, is in his/her face and if we can keep that face intact and as it was before the surgery, then we have probably achieved the best for that person.
So, make sure you live a healthy life, eat well, exercise daily and avoid consumption of tobacco and alcohol! Stay Happy!
Author: Dr. Sanjay Deshmukh