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World No Tobacco Day: Beware, Tobacco Use A Leading Cause Of Increasing Cancer-Related Deaths In India

Tobacco consumption in different forms leads to severe health issues and cancers beyond the well-known lung cancer.

On this World No Tobacco Day, it is important to highlight that tobacco use is a significant cause of increasing cancer deaths in India. Read on to know more.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : June 1, 2021 12:25 PM IST

Over the last two years, the importance of breathing normally has taken centre stage all over the world. The importance of being fit to ward off all illnesses has received the due importance that it deserves at the government and citizen's level. Breathing strongly correlates with one's fitness due to multiple reasons like oxygenation, muscle function, and rebuilding. On this World tobacco day, it's important to realise that India is home to 80 per cent of smokers and therefore suffer the heaviest burden of tobacco-related morbidity and mortality. India is the second-largest consumer and third largest producer of tobacco in the world. Tobacco use is very rampant across different geographical regions of the country in various types of smoking and smokeless forms. In India, smoking kills over one million people each year. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer and heart disease, are the fourth leading cause of death in India, accounting for 53 per cent of all deaths.

Tobacco consumption is a leading cause of many cancers

Tobacco consumption in different forms leads to severe health issues and cancers beyond the well-known lung cancer. It leads to a number of oral and neck cancers like mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, and it can even lead to cancer of the stomach, kidney, pancreas, liver, bladder, cervix, colon and rectum, and acute myeloid leukaemia.

According to the National Cancer registry report, tobacco led cancer constitutes about 27 per cent of all cancer cases in India. Few reports says that, among adults (age 15+), 28.6 per cent of the population currently uses tobacco products (men 42.4 per cent; women 14.2 per cent) of which 21.4 per cent of adults use smokeless tobacco (men 29.6 per cent; women 12.8 per cenet) and 10.7 per cent of adults smoke (men 19.0 per cent; women 2.0 per cent). Among youth (ages 13-15), 14.6 per cent currently use some form of tobacco (boys 19.0 per cent; girls 8.3 per cent).

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52 per cent adults exposed to second hand smoke

The impact of tobacco consumption, mainly smoking, is not only limited to the consumers but also the people around them. On this World tobacco day, it is important to highlight the fact that around 52 per cent of adults are exposed to secondhand smoke in indoor workplaces, restaurants, and public transportation, whereas 36.6 per cent of youth (ages 13-15) are exposed to secondhand smoke in public places, and 21.9 per cent are exposed at home.

Prevention is better than cure

Tobacco led cancers are preventive in nature, and the only way to prevent tobacco triggered cancers is by saying a big no to tobacco consumption in any form. Early identification of the disease can help in bringing down the curve of tobacco related cancer deaths considerably.

Symptoms to look out for

On this World tobacco day, let us see how you can identify the signs of cancer. The most common symptoms that should alarm an individual for probable tobacco led cancers are:

  • Lumps or growths on the body that are no normal
  • A gain or loss in weight without reason
  • Long-lasting sore, hoarseness and cough
  • Difficulty or discomfort in swallowing or after eating
  • Changes in bowel movements and bladder habits
  • An unusual bleeding/ discharge from the body
  • Compromised fatigue

On having the above alarming symptoms, one should immediately consult a doctor. There are different approaches to identify the cancers depending by on their type.

Common cancers caused by tobacco use

The most common types of cancers that can be caused due to tobacco consumption are oral cancer, esophageal cancer or cancer of the food pipe, and throat cancers, as these parts come directly in contact with chemicals in tobacco products. The approach taken for the treatment against these cancers depends on the stage and site of the cancer.

Treatment options

Depending on the stage of cancer, the surgical approach remains one of the most commonly suggested treatments for such cancers. The surgical removal of such cancers is one of the most time-consuming surgeries for food pipe cancer as the surgeon has to do the dissection into the chest, between the lungs and then the upper abdomen to ensure that all cancer tissues are removed. Given the critical nature of these cancers, a minimally-invasive approach, like Robotic-Assisted Surgery (RAS) by using da Vinci surgical robotic system, is considered the safest and efficient approach towards the treatment.

The RAS is done with small incisions and lesser blood loss, making surgery and surgical recovery easier on patients as well as for the surgeon. RAS also helps a qualified surgeon to perform such an intense procedure easier as there is a 3D visualisation of anatomy in front of the surgeon. Therefore s/he can remove the cancer with greater precision. The procedures also have post-surgery benefits like shorter hospital stays, fewer complications, faster recoveries, fewer hospital readmissions, and leaves the patient with minimal or no scars.

Important to quit tobacco before it is too late

Each year tobacco use kills about one million Indians. While the growing numbers of cancers in India pose a significant health concern due to tobacco consumption, it leads to various harmful diseases and disorders other than cancer. Although many of these are equally complicated, they can be treated with advanced treatment approaches in form of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy to provide a better quality of life for the patient. But the key message for people is to quit tobacco consumptions in any forms before it is too late for their survival

(This article is authored by Dr.Surender Kumar Dabas, Senior Director & HOD, Surgical Oncology & Robotic Surgery, BLK-Max Super Specialty Hospital, Delhi)

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