'Self-examination helps treat oral cancer early'

'Self-examination helps treat oral cancer early'

A five-year study conducted by doctors at the City-based Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Hospital and the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, found that there was a good compliance rate, where people who picked up oral cancer symptoms corresponded with doctor’s opinion after check-up, and people with an early-stage tumour did not follow up on their treatment.

Mobile education

The study is to be published in the forthcoming issue of “Oral Oncology”, an international journal on cancer research.

The hospital started the Oncogrid project, where information about MSE is disseminated through mobile phone, not only to people but also to health workers.

Funded by Narayana Hrudayalaya, the project is being implemented at seven centres — Austin Town in Bangalore, Nelamangala, Chikkaballapur, Bagalkot, Raichur, Mysore and Hosur.

“The idea of Oncogrid is to improve the patient follow-up rate once pre-cancer lesions are confirmed in the mouth. Instead of brochures, we distribute information to health workers and patients through mobile phones.

The health workers will then go to the community and show pictures of mouth lesions and create awareness about the malady,” said Dr Moni Kuriakose, chief head, neck oncology services, Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Hospital.

‘Take photos’

The health worker can also take photos of the lesions and send it to the hospital, where a doctor can advise the line of treatment.  The system will also remind the health worker to ensure that the patient undergoes follow-ups regularly.

Although the project created by MIT Harvard students was started a year ago, technical errors had hampered regular screening of patients. So far, 700 patients have been screened and 150 cancer and pre-cancer patients treated.

“It was encouraging to see that 95 per cent of the pre-cancer patients were treated at an early stage,” Dr Kuriakose said.

The hospital is now in talks with the State Health Department to implement the project on a pilot basis in Tumkur and Shimoga.