Andhra Pradesh

Oral cancer stalks the poor in Kuppam Rural mandal

Medical and health officials organising a special cancer screening and awareness camp at Kuppam .

Medical and health officials organising a special cancer screening and awareness camp at Kuppam .  


Nearly all the cases are of farm labour addicted to chewing tobacco and gutkha

The tri-state Kuppam junction, dotted with hundreds of agriculture-dependant backward hamlets is hit by an unusual phenomenon. An alarming number of oral cancer cases have been reported during the last one decade. In recent months the intensity has gone up.

Kuppam region - with its mandals of Kuppam proper, Santhipuram, Gudupalle and Ramakuppam - has the largest presence of agriculture labour in the district. Add to this a huge number of unemployed youth depending on odd jobs at Bengaluru and Chennai, and shuttling between the two cities on express trains on the section. Marked by hard labour, it is observed that a major chunk of the work force is addicted to tobacco products, particularly the chewing variety. The number of victims of oral cancer in Kuppam belt is more among women, compared to men. Three members of a six-member family - a couple and their son - at Mallanur became victims of oral cancer in a span of just three years. Head of the family, Senthil, said he acquired the habit of chewing tobacco from his father.

“Since 2012, I got addicted to gutkha, consuming close to 10 packets a day. I was diagnosed with oral cancer in a Bengaluru hospital in 2017. Later, I recovered. Unfortunately, I continued the habit. Now, I am hit by the malignant disease on the other cheek,” he said.

Awareness camps

Sugunamma, a worker at the flower gardens in Kuppam, said tobacco chewing had disfigured her face, after a surgery. “I quit the habit. But the cancer has done its damage, and I am yet to recover fully. My daughter inherited this vile habit from me. After counselling, she has quit it for good,” she said.

The incidence of oral cancer is also found to be distressing among Kuppam youth.

Working outstation amidst hard labour conditions, several of them from Kuppam became victims of tobacco chewing and heavy smoking. The high incidence of oral cancer has been detected during medical camps in recent months.

District Medical and Health Officer B.Ramagiddaiah told The Hindu: “We have been conducting a series of medical and awareness camps there.”

According to him the number of victims is very disquieting in the rural pockets. In addition to the oral cancer, cases pertaining to lung, throat and intestine cancer were also detected.

“In recent months, we had arranged surgeries for about a dozen cases from Kuppam area,” the DMHO said, adding that the awareness campaign about dangers of tobacco would be continued.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 10:51:11 AM |

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