English | Dzongkha Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Head and Neck Cancer common in Bhutan


Sep 30, 2014

CancerTreatment-Early diagnosis and reviews from time to time is the key to Cancer treatment. However, patients do not come to the hospital for follow ups which increasing the risks of reoccurrences.

Cancer is still the number one cause of death in Bhutan, with Head and Neck Cancer being the third most common.

Today, a Surgeon from the Tata Medical Centre in Kolkatta, India, visited the National Referral Hospital and provided a free review for the Bhutanese Head Neck Cancer patients.

Head Neck Cancer is not a rare disease. The National referral Hospital diagnoses at least two patients with this type of Cancer, every week.

The government spends at least Nu.30,000-40,000 just to send a patient for a routine check up to India, and a surgery would cost the government a minimum of Nu.300,000.


Most of the referrals and reviews have to be done in India because of lack of technical capacity in the country, both in terms of equipment and specialists. The hospital refers at least 80 Head Neck Cancer patients to India.

According to the Surgeon from the JDWNRH, Dr. Phub Tshering, it was felt necessary to invite a consultant from Tata Medical Centre for reviewing the diagnosed cases in the country.

He says, it is rather expensive for the government to send patients all the way to Kolkatta for follow-up.

Another problem, he says, is that once treated, people assume they are cured and do not turn up for reviews. This increases the chances of relapses.

Dr. Pattatheyil Arun from Tata Medical Centre, Kolkatta says, “Our endurance is to detect this reoccurrence early. As we need to detect cancer early, we also need to detect reoccurrence early.”

The Consultant Head and Neck Surgeon from the Tata Medical Centre is in Thimphu for the next two days, providing similar services and conducting surgeries.

Meanwhile, people are advised to see the doctor if they notice anything suspicious in their mouth like bleeding from one side, a growth or an area that does not look normal on the face.

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