In the past four months, 15 cases were reported

As yet another World Cancer Day, observed annually on February 4, approaches, mass screening campaign among the general population even those not showing any symptoms has become the need of the hour.

Such a campaign would increase the early detection of cancers, a vital requirement in treating it without major surgeries or procedures and preventing mortalities, says A. Suresh Venkatachalam, Head, Department of Surgical Oncology at the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC), Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH).

With regard to free facilities of the Government are concerned, at present endoscopy, performed to detect oesophagus cancer or cancer in the food pipe, was done only at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital, even though the district had nine other Government hospitals and 47 primary health centres, besides several urban health centres in Corporation limits.

Causes

Caused mostly by abuse of tobacco, both chewing and smoking, and inadequate nutrition in age group of 50 to 60, oesophagus cancer can be detected early only through regular screening as there would be only very few early symptoms. Endoscopy was done in India only for those exhibiting symptoms.

Cases

“The number of oesophagus cancer has slowly begun to increase in recent years in Western Tamil Nadu. Such cases were not reported here 20 years ago.

In just the past four months, 15 cases were reported, of which surgery was performed in five. The infrastructure for screening must be created in all PHCs and GHs,” he said.

Symptoms

Further, another cancer in which the patients get admitted at a late stage at CMCH was throat cancer.

The most common symptom was change in voice tone. Many ignore this and get themselves screened later when breathing difficulty sets in.

Dr. Suresh said that by this stage, the patient would require a major surgery to remove the voice box, which will cause permanent speech loss.

The patient was then implanted with a valve in the tracheo stroma, which will enable him/her to breathe through the throat.

While electronic voice box implant could partially restore speech, it was expensive and done only in the private sector in this region.

He was also not in favour of mastectomy, the surgical removal of one or both breasts to treat cancer.

The CMCH was among the leading institutes in the State in performing breast cancer surgery and breast reconstruction, he added.

Screening clinic

Hospital Dean R. Vimala said that the CMCH was planning to establish a screening clinic and undertake awareness campaigns also.

Cancer was a difficult topic to broach and hence, few discussed it openly. The CMCH’s Regional Cancer Centre would soon begin counselling sessions.

The Coimbatore Medical College was also going to start screening clinics and awareness campaigns towards this cause

The CMCH would soon become a nodal centre for treating cancer patients from all sections of the society under the aegis of the Chief Minister’s Health Insurance Scheme, Dr. Vimala added.

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