Port Blair, Sept. 23: The Medical Experts from Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences at Cochin strongly emphasized the need for banning all Gutka products in the islands to prevent cancer. 

Addressing the media persons at the press conference held at Port Blair on Saturday, the eminent Oncologists, Dr Subramnayam Iyer, Dr Vijaya Kumar and Dr Dinesh revealed that they detected many oral cancer cases while screening the patients at the early cancer detection camps held in different parts of the islands during this week.  Dr Subramanyam Iyer informed that about 171 patients were screened in the camps held at Port Blair, Rangat and Diglipur and detected 21 suspected cases of cancer among them, most of which are oral cancers.  He added that these early detection camps organized in close coordination with the health department evoked very good response among the people.

He said detection of cancer at the early stage would ensure the complete cure of the disease with the radio therapy alone in cost effective manner.  If it is detected at the advanced stage, prolonged treatment with surgery and chemo-therapy is required for the patients, which costs very high. He informed that soon after diagnosing the cancer, the patients need to undergo minimum 3 months initial treatment as inpatient at the nominal charges of about Rs. 50,000. However, many  private hospitals will charge in the range of 2 lakh to 4 lakh rupees for the treatment.         

Interacting with the media persons, Dr Vijaya kumar said the islanders should be cautious while going to mainland for cancer treatment, so that they would not be misguided.  Briefing on the treatment of cancer, he said the breast, cervical and oral cancers are fully curable, if proper treatment is given in time.

The Cancer Specialist, Dr Dinesh informed that the Islands territory is not covered under the National Cancer Control Programme and appealed to the administration to take up the matter with the Union government to include Andman and Nicobar region in the National cancer control programme. He further stressed the need for establishing a comprehensive cancer care unit in the GB Pant Hospital with advanced Radio Oncology equipments and other facilities. 

Expressing concern over the high level of tobacco consumption among the islanders, particularly chewing pan and gutka items, he sought the cooperation of the media to educate the people on the ill effects of tobacco items and also called for the complete ban on gutka items to prevent the rise of oral cancer cases in the islands.

Earlier, briefing the media on the National Cancer Control Programme, the Asst Director Press of Information Bureau, Dhanasekaran informed that cancer prevalence in India is estimated to be around 25 lakhs with 8 lakh deaths occurring every year. India launched its National Cancer Control Programme in 1984 with the main objectives of preventing the disease and providing early detection services and treatment facilities for cancer all over the country. Under the programme, 21 regional cancer centres were established in different parts of the country.

He said prevention is the key element in any disease control programme. Stressing on the need for educating the people on the preventive measures for cancer, especially control of tobacco consumption, which is the single most leading cause of cancer deaths in India, he said the islands media can play a greater role in educating the people about the preventive measures as well as the early detection services available in the islands.