More often than not, smoking leads to cancer in the mouth or throat, and oral tobacco products are associated with cancer in the cheeks, gums, and inner surface of the lips: a message that doctors want to convey on World No Tobacco Day.
Amid a raging pandemic, surgeons at Max Super Specialty Hospital in Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh removed an adult-head sized 3-kg tumour from a man's jaw. The doctor, who led the 11-hour marathon surgery, shares the story of the patient’s agony in his bid to highlight the effects of chewing tobacco and how quitting the habit is of utmost importance.
Dr Saurabh Gupta, Consultant, Surgical Oncology at Max Super Specialty Hospital, said, "It was one of the largest oral cancers that I have ever seen. Fortunately, this had not spread to other body parts and was still 'curable', but the challenge was to remove the tumour in one piece with oncological principles and to reconstruct his face with give good cosmesis and functional outcome."
On April 30, a team of doctors led by Dr Gupta conducted a surgery removing a tumour from a 37-year-old man's jaw. The tumour, weighing 3 kg, measured 18x12 cm with a depth of 8 cm, was equal to the size of a human head. The cancerous tumour was bleeding inordinately.
The patient was addicted to chewing tobacco and constantly lost body weight. Before the surgery, he had to undergo two rounds of chemotherapy in three weeks to minimise the size of the tumour.
After the chemotherapy, doctors removed one side of his jaw and cheekbone and reconstructed his face and neck by carving out skin and muscles from his chest and thigh.
The patient was then kept under observation for 11 days. “After another three months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, we pray he is able to eat and speak properly like any other healthy individual,” Dr Gupta said.
According to a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), 90% of smokeless tobacco users live in WHO South-East Asian countries, including India. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), over half of all the oral cancers in Asia are caused by tobacco.