Head and Neck Cancer: Global Burden and Regional Trends in India


The actual burden of head and neck cancer in India is much greater than reflected through the existingliterature and hence can be regarded as a ‘tip of iceberg’ situation. This has further been evident by the recentreports of ‘Net-based Atlas of Cancer in India’. South-east Asia is likely to face sharp increases of over 75% inthe number of cancer deaths in 2020 as compared to 2000. Since the percentage increase of Indian populationhas been nearly twice that of the world in last 15 years there is a likelihood of increase in cancer burden with thesame proportion. The distribution of population based cancer registries is grossly uneven with certain importantparts of the country being not represented at all and hence the current cancer burden is not reflected by registrydata. However, the pathetic situation of health care system in major parts of the country as also emphasizedby the World Bank, is not suitable to provide anywhere near accurate data on cancer burden. Head and neckcancer (including thyroid lesions) is third most common malignancy seen in both the sexes across the globe butis the commonest malignancy encountered in Indian males. Also oral cavity cancer is the most prevalent typeamongst the males and one of the highest across the globe. This article reviews the latest global and nationalsituation with an especial emphasis on head and neck cancer. Furthermore this review focuses on burden indifferent sub sites at national and global levels.