The following facts present a grim picture of the status worldwide :
- Oral or oropharyngeal cancer is the eleventh most common cancer worldwide with over
300,000 new cases annually.
- Tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption are estimated
to account for about 90% of oral cancers.
- Usually cancer begins with white patches, leukoplakia or red patches, erythroplakia,
associated with risk factors such as tobacco or/and alcohol.
- Tobacco users – smoked, chewing or both – developed most oral lesions with an annual
incidence rate ranging from 5.2/1,000 to 30.2/1,000, whereas non-user develop the
fewest oral lesions ranging from 0.6/1,000.
- An increasing number of young people are being affected and 25% of the cases have
no associated risk factors.
Oral cancer is the most common cancer in India; as 4 in 10 of all cancers are oral
cancers. Annually 130,000 people succumb to oral cancer in India which translates
into approximately 14 deaths per hour. The reason for high prevalence of oral cancer
in India is primarily because tobacco is consumed in the form of gutka, quid, snuff
or misri. Rising tobacco use in India, where 40 per cent of the world's smokers
live has contributed to this trend. In comparison, in US oral cancer represents
approximately 13% of all cancers thereby translating into 30,000 new cases every
Facts about oral cancer in India
- Recently, a trend has been observed towards increased incidence of oral cancer among
young adults. This increase in incidence is only observed in patients with tongue
- In fact, in India, 60-80% of patients are present with advanced disease as compared
to 40% in developed countries. Early detection would not only improve the cure rate,
but it would also lower the cost and morbidity associated with treatment.
- Increasing prevalence of oral submucous fibrosis, especially in younger individuals,
caused by gutka, an industrially manufactured food item has been seen.
The above facts state that, cancer cases in general, are increasing in India and
it is high time that planners, social activists and government give adequate stress
for prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of these populations.