"Head and Neck Cancer Cases Account For 30% in India"

New Delhi: India is grappling with a significant burden of head and neck cancer, constituting a majority of global cases. Particularly vulnerable are the underprivileged sections of the society, notably workers and labourers, due to the rampant tobacco consumption. The importance of preventive programs to detect the disease early was emphasized at the 22nd annual RGCON 2024, themed 'Head and Neck Cancer: Bridging the Gap from Cure to Survivorship', hosted by the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre (RGCIRC).

“Head and neck cancers represent arround 30% of all cancer cases in India, with projections indicating a startling 50% increase by 2040," stated Mr. Rakesh Chopra, Chairman of RGCIRC, during his keynote address. “With 60% of people in the labour class found to be consuming some form of tobacco, they constitute the most vulnerable sections of the society. Preventive measures, therefore become imperative, and early detection plays a pivotal role, as 80% of all cancers are curable in the early stages," added Mr. Chopra.

Emphasizing the role of technology in diagnostics, Mr. D. S. Negi, CEO of RGCIRC, highlighted AI's. significant impact . “AI algorithms can swiftly identify cancer patterns, enhancing diagnostic accuracy and significantly reducing the turnaround time. This innovation holds promise in early disease detection and improving patient outcomes," he remarked.

RGCON 2024 brought together over 250 faculty and over 1,000 delegates from across the globe to deliberate on advancements in cancer treatment.

Dr. (Prof) Sudhir Kumar Rawal, Medical Director and Chief of Genito Uro – Oncology Services, RGCIRC, explained the conference's significance in fostering research and innovation. “As an academic institution, RGCIRC. places a strong emphasis on research activities. RGCON serves as a platform to witness and adopt new trends in cancer treatment," he elaborated.

Prof. Alok Thakar, Director of the National Cancer Institute & Director of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at AIIMS, Delhi, praised RGCIRC's contributions, acknowledging it as a beacon in cancer care. "This institution founded by a group of social activists has set a commendable precedent in cancer treatment," he commended.

Dr Mudit Agarwal, Unit Head & Senior Consultant of Head & Neck Oncology, RGCIRC, Organizing Secretary - RGCON 2024, expressed gratitude to the global medical fraternity for their participation. “This year's conference facilitated collaboration among experts from surgery, radiation, medical oncology, and pathology, promising advancements in patient care," he affirmed.

Dr. A. K. Dewan, Director of Surgical Oncology at RGCIRC, emphasized that Head and Neck Cancers are a significant concern across Asia. He highlighted smokeless tobacco and smoking as major risk factors, particularly for low-income populations. Dr. Dewan stated that while India sees roughly approximately 1.5 million new cancer cases every year , RGCIRC alone registered around 3,000 Head and Neck cancer cases in 2022, constituting nearly 20% of their total cancer cases. He emphasized the importance of multi-modal treatment, explaining that less than 30% of patients undergo surgery.

RGCON 2024 featured key sessions on advanced treatment modalities such as proton therapy, Brachytherapy, and the integration of AI in cancer care. Noteworthy innovations like the Indian Surgical Robot, SSI Mantra, were also demonstrated alongside discussions on cost-effective reconstruction methods and facial reanimation techniques.

The organizing team of RGCON 2024 included Dr Mudit Agarwal, Unit Head & Senior Consultant of Head & Neck Oncology, Dr Munish Gairola, Director, Radiation Oncology, Dr. Sumit Goyal, Associate Director, Medical Oncology, Dr. Rajat Saha, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, and Dr. Sunil Pasricha, senior consultant, Pathology, and Dr Vikas Arora, consultant, surgical oncology.


Established in 1996, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre (RGCIRC) is counted among Asia’s premier exclusive cancer centres offering the unique advantage of cutting-edge technology, which is put to use by renowned super specialists. Spread over nearly 2 Lakh square feet area, with a current capacity of 500+ beds at Rohini along with another unit at Niti Bagh, RGCIRC is one of the largest tertiary cancer care centres in the continent. With a track record of serving more than 3.5 Lakh patients, the institute offers best-in-class techniques such as whole-body robotic surgery, Cyber Knife, Tomotherapy, True Beam (the next generation Image Guided Radiation Therapy), Intra-Operative Brachytherapy, PET- MRI fusion, and many more. RGCIRC has 14 state-of-the-art well equipped modular Operation Theatres with three-stage air filtration and gas scavenging systems, and 3 Minor Operation Theatres for Day Care Surgeries. RGCIRC has been consistently ranked amongst India’s Best Oncology Hospitals and has been the recipient of many awards. RGCIRC is the only institute in India to have three surgical robots for performing cancer surgery.


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