Our country has the highest rate of oral cancer in the world. These cancers account for one – third of the total cancer cases in India. According to the Indian statistics, 90% of these patients have been tobacco chewers, while 54% of the affected individuals were habitual smokers with bidi being more popular than cigarettes. It is said that individuals who smoke and chew tobacco have 8.4 times higher risk of developing oral cancer.
Though seen more commonly in an age group of 50 to 70 years, oral cancers have been reported in children as early as 10 years of age. In India men are affected two to four times in comparison to females due to their behavioural and life style patterns.
Despite the fact that oral cavity is amenable to visual inspection, 70-80% of the patients present in an advanced stage. Non-healing ulcer, abnormal growth, progressive trismus, oral bleed, abnormal loosening of the dentition, altered speech are few of the symptoms with which these diseases manifest. For diagnosis of these cancers, biopsy remains as the gold standard.
Surgery followed by adjuvant treatment forms the mainstay of treatment. Even though these surgeries, as feared by the patients cause gross disfigurement, a well integrated team approach with the onco-reconstruction makes a great difference in the cosmetic and the functional results, giving a fairly good quality of life to the patients.