Cancer of the Oral Cavity

Head and Neck Cancers in Developing Countries

Poonam Joshi, Sourav Dutta, Pankaj Chaturvedi, and Sudhir Nair


Head and neck cancers are the most common cancers in developing countries, especially in Southeast Asia. Head and neck cancers are more common in males compared to females. This is mainly attributed to tobacco, areca nut, alcohol, etc. Oral cancers are most common amongst all head and neck squamous cell cancers (HNSCC). HNSCC in the developing world differ from those in the Western world in terms of age, site of disease, etiology, and molecular biology. Poverty, illiteracy, advanced stage at presentation, lack of access to health care, and poor treatment infrastructure pose a major challenge in management of these cancers. The annual GDP (gross domestic product) spent on health care is very low in developing countries compared to the developed countries. Cancer treatment leads to a significant financial burden on the cancer patients and their families. Several health programs have been implemented to curb this rising burden of disease. The main aims of these health programs are to increase awareness among people regarding tobacco and to improve access to health care facilities, early diagnosis, treatment, and palliative care.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2014;5(2):e0009