The annual Meerut ONCOCON 2018 was organised on 18 February on the topic ” Managing head, neck cancer – current concepts in Oral, Laryngeal, Salivary and thyroid cancer”.

Around 200 doctors, including ENT surgeons, general physicians, general surgeons, dental surgeons and oncologists from different parts of the country turned up for the 10th edition of the annual cancer conference in Meerut organised by leading oncologist Dr Umang Mithal. The aim was to update their knowledge of the latest advances and innovations in the treatment of cancers of the head and neck.

Leading faculty members and experts in the field from the Tata Memorial hospital of Mumbai and All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi also joined in the deliberations.

The conference was inaugurated by Chief Guest Dr A K Srivastava, principal of Subharti  Medical College. The Guest of Honour was Dr Devendra Chaukar from Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai.

In his inaugural address, Dr Umang Mithal said around 2 crore people all over the world are diagnosed with new types of cancers. India is one of the fastest cancer-spreading countries with over 25 lakh patients. Every year around 13 lakh patients with cancer are being added in India. Of these 40 per cent or around 6 lakh are new cases of head and neck cancer. Four lakh patients die every year which is alarming, he pointed out.

Almost 80 to 90 per cent of these cancers are due to smoking , tobacco and alcohol, diet, lifestyle and preventable infections, he said, adding that cancers of oral cavity, laryngeal, saliva and thyroid glands are increasing though 70 per cent of these is preventable.

Dr Alok Thakkar from AIIMS Delhi, Dr Rajkumar, Chief Medical Officer of Meerut, Dr VB Bhatnagar and Dr S P Mithal were prominent among those who were present.

The experts discussed the latest methods and treatments in intense panel discussions. In the oral cancer section, Dr Arun spoke about methods for prevention and early diagnosis of cancers. Dr Devendra Chaukar of TMH Mumbai spoke about the management of cancer. Dr Kishore Singh of LNJP and Dr Shiv Kumar of TMH addressed the issue of smoking and the role of radiation in larynx cancer. Dr Mithal discussed treatment of salivary gland cancer and nuances in preventing complications post surgery. Dr Alok Thakkar informed the gathering about the latest changes in the treatment of Thyroid cancer.

Meerut ONCOCON was started by Dr Umang Mithal in 2008. “The main objective was to update the doctors and the general public with the latest treatment in cancers,” he said, adding that the purpose was to create awareness among doctors as well as the people about the disease.

In the past ten years, almost every type of cancer is being covered in the conference such as cancer of the breast, head and neck, lungs, bones, ovary, food pipe, leukaemia, lymphomas, gynaecological and genitourinary cancer, etc.

“About 19 years back when I had started my practice, cancer, if diagnosed, was considered the end of life, said Dr Mithal, adding “now we talk about prevention and motivate a patient of cancer to live with dignity and die with dignity.” In case of stage 4 lung cancer now a patient can survive for as long as ten years with the treatment, he pointed out. This can now be called a chronic disease rather than the end of life, he said.

Earlier in case of larynx cancer there used to be a lifelong hole in the neck after the surgery but now if diagnosed early in 70 to 80% cases this would not be there, Dr Mithal said, adding that modern techniques and treatments should be known to doctors.Six senior doctors of Meerut were also awarded for their lifetime services to the medical profession. They are Prof RD Srivastava, Prof V B Bhatnagar, Dr Vinod Kumar, Dr Vinod Vandal, Dr BPR  Bhaiya and Dr MK Malik.