GUWAHATI, July 2 - Linking education with lower incidence of cancer, a study by a team of researchers from the Dr Bhubaneswar Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) has shown that improving the present educational levels of the population stands to lower the burden of head and neck cancers (HNC) in the State.
The study demonstrated that an improvement in the educational level of patients lowered the relative proportion of patients addicted to tobacco consumption in any form, and thus it will lead to a theoretical decline in the proportion of HNC patients.
This was a hospital-based study, which included 1,428 head and neck cancer patients diagnosed from June 2014 to December 2014.
The study has been published in the Clinical Cancer Investigation Journal, an international journal and official publication of the Middle-Eastern Association for Cancer Research.
The term head and neck cancer covers a broad spectrum of anatomical sites of the mouth and throat. Globally, more than six lakh cases of head and neck cancers are diagnosed each year. In India and in Assam in particular, around 30 per cent of all cancers are HNC. Chewable tobacco and betel nut consumption is a customary habit among the different ethnic and socio-cultural groups in the North East, which accounts for the higher number of mouth cancer patients from the region.
“Imparting education on the ill effects and various hazards of tobacco consumption as part of school curriculum is a way forward to curb the menace of tobacco,” Dr Amal Chandra Kataki, Director of the BBCI, said.
Dr Kataki appreciated the efforts of the State education department to start sensitisation programmes in schools and colleges against consumption of tobacco including zarda, gutkha, etc. “It is also the responsibility of our society to impose a strict ban on the sale of tobacco to school-going students,” Dr Kataki added.
Dr Manigreeva Krishnatreya, corresponding author of the study, said although the finding from the present study might not be generalised, yet, it is significant in the context of the region’s population.
“Raising the educational status will be a major tool to bring down tobacco consumption rates, especially, chewable tobacco consumption in our State, which is directly related to oral cancers,” he added.
Dr Jagannath Dev Sharma, Professor of Pathology and Principal Investigator of Hospital-based and Population-based Cancer Registries at BBCI, Dr Rajjyoti Das, Assistant Professor of Head and Neck Oncology and Dr Nizara Baishya and Manoj Kalita of Cancer Registry at BBCI were co-authors of the study.