India’s Gujarat state conducted the country’s first International Congress on Dental Oncology and Research to showcase the pivotal role of oral healthcare providers and dental professionals in spreading awareness, prevention, early detection, and treatment of oral cancer.
The event entitled “Be Different to Make a Difference” was organised on September 2 & 3, 2022 by the Asian Head and Neck Cancer Foundation at Pandit Dindayal Upadhyay Auditorium in Ahmedabad.
A huge crowd of world-renowned doctors, researchers and medical professionals flocked under one roof.
“Oral cancers are dreaded the most as they are deemed to be incurable. However, the fear is obvious as oral cancer alone accounts for 30 percent of all cancers in India. With this conference, we aim at clearing the myth of oral cancer being fatal by spreading awareness about routine screenings, its early detection, and effective treatment,” Dr. Shakti Singh Deora, the organising secretary said.
Meanwhile, emphasising the importance of the early detection and need of awareness about routine screening, President of the Mucormycosis Rehabilitation Society of India, Dr. Kiran Patel asserted, “We have been observing that citizens who have been consuming tobacco and other stuff are more prone to being diagnosed with the disease and are at the verge of or are already have entered into critical phase, when they approach their dentists, hence it is really important to inoculate habit of routine screening in general population. It helps cure the unimaginable and can help you live a happier life.”
Reportedly, over 70 percent cases related to oral cancer get to advanced stages and become one of the deadliest diseases because of late detection making its prognosis poor and questionable. Reasons for delayed detection include lack of awareness amongst the general population, inadequate number of healthcare professionals for screening early detection, lack of access to healthcare facilities, and inadequate tertiary care centres and social stigma.
Speaking about the convergence of people from different background, Dr. Natasha Lalwani, the organising co-secretary said, “With this first-of-its-kind conference in India, we have brought together eminent international speakers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, New York (USA) and leading national healthcare professionals as well. With them sharing their invaluable knowledge and experience in the field, we intend to bridge the yawning gap between cancer surgeons, oral healthcare providers and patients, thereby addressing alarming rates of late detection and poor prognosis of oral cancer.”
Of late, Dental Oncology has become an emerging trend in the area of Dentistry, focusing on dental and oral manifestations of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and or head and neck surgery.
The event brought into focus the key roles of oral healthcare providers, dental professionals in screening, prevention, early detection, treatment, and rehabilitation of oral cancer patients and empowering them in dealing with oral manifestations and complications of oral cancer.
The conference on Dental Oncology and Research played a crucial role in fighting against the rising menace of oral cancers. It was an interactive platform to raise public awareness and re-emphasise the importance of healthcare professionals about their contribution to prevention, accurate screening, treatment, and rehabilitation of cancer patients.
Additionally, the event also added values of imbibing social responsibility and a gradual collaborative approach towards cancer care and management to drastically reduce the overall burden on patients as well as medical professions. It also aimed at the promotion of better treatment outcomes, attentive rehabilitation and improved quality of life for cancer patients.
Established in 1958, Asian Head Neck Cancer Foundation is a non-government and non-profit organisation that works towards spreading awareness about prevention and treatment of various forms of cancer.
The foundation is designed for advocacy and service, and was created to promote change through proactive means, in both the public, medical and dental professional sectors. Its vision and mission are aligned with the objectives of the government-sponsored policies- NHM, NEP and NTCP.
Important and prominent projects of the organisation include E-CAN, EDU-CAN and ToSS.
At the forefront of its agenda, it sensitises the general population about the need for annual head neck cancer screening. It works extensively in rural and urban areas of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh towards betterment of society and welfare of cancer patients.
According to a survey, Oral cancer poses a serious health challenge to the nations undergoing economic transitions. In India, around 77,000 new cases and 52,000 deaths are reported annually, which is approximately one-fourth of the global incidences.