Improved survival among oral cancer patients: findings from a retrospective study at a tertiary care cancer centre in rural Kerala, India.


Department of Surgical Oncology, Malabar Cancer Centre, Thalassery, Kerala, 670 103, India. [Email]


BACKGROUND : Oral cancer is very common in India. The reported 5-year survival of such patients is around 50% after treatment with surgery and radiotherapy, much lower than most of the developed countries.
METHODS : A retrospective study of a prospective database of oral cancer patients undergoing surgery from June 2009 to June 2013 was conducted. Follow-up details were updated from case records and by phone calls. Data were double entered in EpiData Entry version 3.1 and were analysed using EpiData Analysis software
RESULTS : Two-hundred and twenty patients were analysed (136 males); 85% were consuming tobacco, mainly in chewable form. The majority (51.1%) had tongue cancer, of whom 75 patients (34.1%) had T4 tumours. Postoperative radiotherapy was given to 108 patients (49.1%). Forty had recurrence, of which 23 were in early stage. Of these, 19 showed node positivity (p < 0.01). Node-negative patients had 79% 5-year survival while node positive had 59% which is comparable to that reported in developed countries. Median disease-free survival duration was 48.2 months.
CONCLUSIONS : Node positivity is the single factor affecting recurrence and survival. The overall survival and disease-free survival is better in patients without lymph node involvement and in patients with early stage of cancer as compared to the patients with node involvement and in advanced stages.


India,Mouth neoplasms,Oral cancer,Survival analysis,