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Times of India
08 August 2008
Pune, India
By Umesh Isalkar

Emerging As Post–Cancer Surgery Rehabilitation Hub
Removal of part of the upper jaw due to cancer surgery Removal of part of the upper jaw due to cancer surgery
Despite significant advancements in treating head and neck–related cancers like that of the mouth, nose, eyes and ears, it is largely seen that rehabilitation of such patients has still not caught on in India, as much as in the West. For most of such patients in our country, rehabilitation post–cancer surgery continues to be an enigma. It is a norm in the western world but sparsely seen in India, inspite of higher incidences of cancer.

Thankfully, the city is emerging as a rehabilitation hub with the availability of specialty treatments like oral and maxillofacial prosthodontics that deals with replacement of structures in the head, neck and face region after the cancer surgery. Surprisingly, the expenses involved are affordable even to the common man.

Shows Obturator Prosthesis in place Shows Obturator Prosthesis in place
When 59–year–old Narayan Babar, a watchman with the Velapur High School in Malshirus taluka, had to undergo an oral cancer surgery in February 2007, little did he expect that he would ever be able to speak and eat well after the surgery as the doctors had to remove a large portion of his upper jaw along with the upper and lower line of teeth from the left side of his mouth during the surgery.

“I could neither talk nor eat properly after the surgery. I had lost interest in life and was resigned to my fate,” said Babar. My surgeon advised me to undergo another surgery, which he said, would restore the lost confidence. A week after the surgery, I consulted the person my surgeon had asked me to approach. He not only fitted in an artificial prosthesis of upper palate in my mouth, but also put in an artificial set of teeth.

“Now I can talk and eat like other people. After I went in for the prosthesis, the food does not come out of my nose as it used to earlier. I have regained my lost hope now,” said Babar with a beaming face.

“A near normal life is indeed possible after cancer treatment and the patients don’t have to resign themselves to a suboptimal lifestyle post–cancer treatment,” says an oral and maxillofacial prosthodontist, B. Srinivasan of Ruby Hall Cancer Centre. He adds that there is a need to effect a paradigm shift in our approach to the entire issue. Every aspect of cancer – prevention, treatment, management of side effects of radiation therapy, speech therapy and dealing with psycho–social issues – should be addressed and the public should be made aware of these things, said Srinivasan.

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