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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 45-51

Impact of demographic factors on delayed presentation of oral cancers: A questionnaire-based cross-sectional study from a rural cancer center


1 Department of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology, Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Mullanpur and Sangrur, Tata Memorial Center, Punjab, India
2 Department of Medical Oncology, Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Mullanpur and Sangrur, Tata Memorial Center, Punjab, India
3 Department of Community Medicine, Rajendra Medical College, Patiala, Punjab, India
4 Department of Radiation Oncology, Department of Director, Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Mullanpur and Sangrur, Tata Memorial Center, Punjab, India

Correspondence Address:
Alok K Goel
Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Mullanpur and Sangrur, Tata Memorial Center, Punjab
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/crst.crst_318_21

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Background: Oral cancer is a major health issue in India. The majority of patients with oral cancer present at an advanced stage. Objectives: We aimed to understand the factors responsible for delay in presentation of patients with oral cancer in rural areas. Materials and Methods: This questionnaire-based, cross-sectional study on patients with oral cancer was conducted in the head and neck surgical outpatient department of our tertiary care center at Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Sangrur, between June and September 2021. A questionnaire consisting of 31 multiple choice questions was administered to consenting patients. The demographic and socio-economic profile of the patients, their knowledge of risk factors, and their symptomatology, attitude towards cancer management, access to cancer care, and knowledge about cancer treatment and its outcomes were assessed. Results: A total of 200 patients were included; 70% were men. About 60% of the participants had to travel more than 100 km to reach our center. About 50% of the patients were addicted to tobacco in some form. Only 30% of the participants were aware of the risk factors for oral cancer. The median time between symptom onset and seeking any medical consultation was 120 days, whereas the median time between symptom onset and cancer diagnosis was 165 days. About 75% of patients initially consulted an alternative medicine practitioner, and 90% took some form of alternative treatment before consulting a cancer specialist. Around 80% considered alternative medicines to be an effective form of cancer treatment. Conclusion: Our study shows a gross lack of awareness and multiple misconceptions that prevail in the rural population. Increasing public awareness, training primary healthcare workers to pick up on early signs of oral cancer, promoting tobacco cessation activities, and teaching oral self-examination and its importance to people can help tackle the problem of delayed presentation of oral cancers.


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