Head and neck cancer burden in India: an analysis from published data of 37 population-based cancer registries

21 Sep 2023
Sonali Bagal, Atul Budukh, Jarnail Singh Thakur, Tapas Dora, Burhanuddin Qayyumi, Divya Khanna, Dolorosa Fernandes, Priyal Chakravarti, Ravikant Singh, Suvarna Patil, Rajesh Dikshit, Pankaj Chaturvedi

Head and neck cancer (HNC) is a major public health problem in India. This article presents the HNC burden in different regions of India. The published population-based cancer registries (PBCRs) data from the National Cancer Registry Programme, Bengaluru, and the Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, India, were utilised. The 37 PBCRs were divided into six regions including central, east, north, northeast, west and south. The age-standardised incidence rate of HNC was 25.9 (95% CI 25.7–26.1) and 8.0 (95% CI 7.9–8.1) per 100,000 population, respectively, in males and females. HNC accounted for about 26% of all cancer cases in males and 8% in females. The risk of developing HNC was 1 in 33 for males and 1 in 107 for females. The northeastern registries reported the highest incidence rate 31.7 per 100,000 population in males followed by northern (28.5), central (28.3), western (24.4), southern (23.9) and eastern (18.3). In females, the incidence was in the range of 6.2–10.1 per 100,000 population. For all PBCRs together, the HNC burden was two to three times higher in the age group 60+ as compared to 20–39 years. The HNC burden in India is higher than in the USA, UK, Australia, Africa and Brazil. The PBCRs from the south-east Asia region such as the Colombo district, Sri Lanka, as well as Siraha, Saptari, Dhanusha and Mohattari – Nepal have also reported a high burden of HNC. All regions reported mouth as a leading cancer site followed by tongue, larynx, hypopharynx and tonsil except the northeastern region registries where hypopharynx was the top leading cancer. The burden of other sites of HNC is low. Raising awareness of the disease and associated risk factors, providing early detection services, as well as easy access to diagnosis and treatment are required. The government should focus on building the infrastructure and capacity building to control this disease.

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