2 lakh people in Maharashtra show signs of early stages of oral cancer

Swapnil Mishra

Mumbai: As many as two crore people were screened as part of an oral cancer detection programme in the state last year. Of these, 2.6 lakh people were detected with and referred to district hospitals for further investigation, to rule out oral cancer.

Dr Sadhana Tayade, joint director of health (non-communicable diseases), Maharashtra, said a large-scale campaign to detect oral cancer was undertaken in December 2017 for the screening of the disease across the state’s 36 districts. People were examined for symptoms like red and white patches in the mouth, ulcers and difficulty in opening their mouths fully.

“It is not necessary that these people have cancer but we have identified at least 2.6 lakh such people with these conditions, of which 490 have been diagnosed with oral cancer. In the second phase of the campaign, 1,778 patients have undergone biopsy and other lab tests to confirm malignancy. Around 504 patients are undergoing treatment for oral cancer,” informed Dr Tayade.

She further added, patients began undergoing treatment for oral cancer, only after visiting the camp for the second time. Despite the sale of tobacco being banned in the state, it is being sold illegally to citizens, resulting in a rise in the number of people showing the early symptoms of oral cancer. “There was a lack of awareness in rural areas but this campaign has generated awareness and many people have come forward for a check-up and are getting treated,” Dr Tayade said.

According to experts at Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, there are several factors like increase in population, longevity, lack of physical activity and urbanisation of rural areas, which are likely to double the number of cancer cases by 2030.