Cancer conundrum solved

Cancer conundrum solved

Arsenic caused large-scale skin cancer cases at a hamlet in Gulbarga

Scores of skin cancer cases in the tanda have baffled doctors for some now. The cancer assumes forms of skin ulcers on their limbs. Many sucumbed as the ulcers turned malignant and a woman afflicted by the ulcers had one of her legs amputated.

Large-scale occurrence of cancer of a particular type in a specified geographical location is considered rarest of the rare phenomena. The Kiradalli phenomenon interested Dr. Sharad Tanga, a cancer surgeon working as an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the Mahadevappa Rampure Medical College here about six months ago, when he came across three afflicted with skin cancer. He was intrigued to know that they all belonged to Kiradalli tanda.

He visited the tanda and found a number of persons with skin deformities affecting both arms and legs.
His investigations led him to a particular bore well, the main source of drinking water for the residents of the hamlet. The water of the well had high concentration of arsenic.
Immediately, Dr Tanga began research into the phenomenon in the Tanda. Helping him in the task were his colleagues, surgeons Dr Sanganna Kollur and Dr Suresh Patil and the privilege of presenting the experiment went to the second year PG surgery student Dr Vipin Goel.

Arsenic keratitis
The systematic study and research left the team of doctors dumbstruck as quite a few  victims had developed malignancy. The hamlet had a population of 628 out of whom 420 people turned up for examination and out of them 46 had skin changes suspected to be arsenic keratitis. Of the 46, 15 had suspicious lesions which were biopsied and 10 cases turned to be malignant.

All the malignant persons were operated for non-healing skin ulcers to dig out the carcinogenic path. The water sample was sent to Cochin University of Science and Technology for analysis. The result was baffling. Water contained an abnormal arsenic level of 0.16 ppm which is 16 times higher than the permissible level! The blood level of arsenic was also high directly establishing the correlation.
According to WHO, the maximum permissible limit of arsenic in drinking water is 0.01 ppm and higher levels can cause skin malignancy.

Rare occurrence
Dr Tanga said that it was a rare clinical occurrence of ingested arsenic causing skin cancers to a large group of people in a community as arsenic-related cancer was mainly reported in West Bengal, Bangla Desh and few other isolated places.
The people who have been consuming arsenic water from the last 10 years have naturally fallen prey to it. However, after the media hue and cry over the pathetic state of affairs the administration plunged in to action by abandoning the source. It sanctioned Rs 1 crore for rehabilitation under which potable drinking water has been provided from a new ground water source about four km away from the hamlet.
Dr Tanga said that the new source was free from arsenic and Kiradalli Tanda will have no problem whatsoever in future. The short research paper on Kiradalli Tanda presented by Dr Vipin Goel, a second year PG surgery student, has won the first prize and gold medal at the annual conference of the Association of Surgeons of India held at Coimbatore recently.
DH News Service