So what are the earliest symptoms of head and neck cancer, and who are the people who are most likely to get affected?
Dr. Hemkant Verma: I will first start with the symptoms, and then move onto the people who are most at risk. The most common symptom which patients notice on their bodies is that they are not able to open their mouth properly as compared to earlier. There is a restriction in the tongue protrusion. There can be a non-healing ulcer over a long time. An ulcer that is not healing and gradually progressing over time.
In oral cancer, it can start with the loosening of the teeth. There can be a change in the voice, a difficulty in swallowing, and sometimes there can be difficulty in breathing as well if the tumor is in an advanced stage.
Team MediGence: What are the signs that people have, and how to differentiate them from the underlying diseases. For example, it is easy for people to confuse the early signs of cancer with some underlying diseases. So what would those be?
Dr. Hemkant Verma: Some patients can get confused by dental carries. Some of them have poor dental hygiene. They get dental diseases. A few people dental lining is not normal. So the abnormal position of the teeth can be hurting the mouth from inside.
Apart from that the people who have dentures, if it is not fitting well, can also cause trauma. So these things can confuse you with cancer. Sometimes even forms of cold can also lead to confusion with cancer. These are some of those confusing symptoms
Team MediGence: And does the head and neck cancer occur in the primary stage or the second stage?
Dr. Hemkant Verma: This cancer is not dependent on the stage of the tumor, but the location of the tumor. Most of the tumors in the oral cavity region, they are primary. This means these are arising from this site only.
Secondary tumors are those which are arising form some other organ, and they have spread to another organ.
Team MediGence: Which category of patients is most prone to this type of cancer?
Dr. Hemkant Verma: People who are having poor dental hygiene and people who are taking tobacco in any form. Tobacco for those who are chewing it, or those who are smoking. Also, those who are addicted to beetle nuts. Also, those who are taking alcohol regularly.
So these are the high-risk candidates, especially those who are not maintaining oral hygiene properly.
Team MediGence: And sir, what about the prognosis of the disease? What happens during earlier stage detection compared to later stage detection in this form of cancer
Dr. Hemkant Verma: So prognosis wise, there is a huge difference between any disease in the earlier stage. And we are able to give the patient a complete treatment. If the patient receives complete treatment from the experts, then their survival and the quality of life is excellent in the earlier stages
And if the patient is diagnosed in the later stages, or the patient is not properly accepting the treatment, then the quality of life goes down.
Team MediGence: One last question I have, is we talk about cancers daily, and is somewhat related to the endemic lifestyle as well. So how has this evolved over the decade? Due to a lifestyle shift, there has been a huge jump in the number of cancer cases. So what impact has this had?
Dr. Hemkant Verma: Lifestyle is definitely one of the most common causes of cancer. The lifestyle has changed because of the sedentary lives we lead. They start taking tobacco and alcohol from a very young age. And taking the same in high doses. Intaking of junk food, we also avoid doing exercises. So obesity in itself is a cause of cancer.
So all in all tobacco, alcohol, poor hygiene maintenance, and a lack of exercise are some fairly common causes that can lead to various forms of cancer.
In order to avoid the same, we should have a regular intake of water, plenty of exercises, go for regular cancer screening checks. If we follow them we can avoid them to a certain extent.
Team MediGence: Thank you so much, sir, for the enlightening discussion. We will look forward to collaborating with you on different topics.