Head & neck cancer was the first most common in Toungoo Hospital, the second in Mandalay Hospital in 2016 and the third in Yangon Hospital, Myanmar in 2012. Betel quid chewing, smoking and alcohol consumption are the main risk factors for head and neck cancer. Most Myanmar people are used to betel quid chewing and keeping it in their mouth for long hours. Each wrapped betel leaf contains areca nut, tobacco, slaked lime and some other ingredients. We try to find out the life style of head and neck cancer patients, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and betel quid chewing in our region, Toungoo.
A descriptive study was conducted by retrieving and analyzing data for the year 2016 at Toungoo General Hospital.
Among 307 cancer patients registered, 67 (21.8%) patients were head and neck squamous cell cancer. Male to female ratio was 1.6:1. The mean age of male patients was 59.2 (range 36-81 years) and that for female was 58.7 (range 19-86). The most common sites were oral cavity (34.3%, mean age 75.9) followed by larynx (25.4%, mean age 68.9), oropharynx (11.9%, mean age 63.5) and nasopharynx (11.9%, mean age 62.5), hypopharynx (10.4%, mean age 62.1), lip (4.5%, mean age 59.3) and nose (1.5%, mean age 68). Regarding to their habits, betel only patients were 20 (29.8%); smoking and betel, 19 (28.3%); smoking, alcohol and betel, 19 (28.3%); without documentation, 3 (4.5%); alcohol and betel 2(3%); smoking only, 2 (3%); without habit, 2 (3%); no alcohol only and no alcohol and smoking patients. All oral cavity cancer patients were betel quid chewers, mostly smokers (47.8%) and alcoholics (43.5%). The majority (87%) of oral cancer patients had history of habitual betel quid chewing and keeping it in buccal cavity most of the time. In most cases, they started this habit at their teenage and found it very difficult to quit until they came across sinister health consequences
Betel chewing was the primary contributor in head and neck cancer occurrences and it also interacts with smoking and alcohol drinking in an additive way in this population. This issue can be noticed for public awareness of risk habits in head and neck cancer patients and that may be a great help in cancer prevention through life style modification.
Clinical trial identification
Legal entity responsible for the study
Toungoo General Hospital
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.