With cancer gradually on the rise, with 17,000 to 18,000 cases reported per year, Governmental health authorities are scheduled to bring in new legislation to regulate areca nut based products owing to their carcinogenic properties and nature.
With the exception of cervical cancer, all other types of cancer is gradually increasing with oral cancer being highly prevalent among males and breast cancer being prevalent among females.
It is important that those with cancer obtain medical treatment at the initial stage when the symptoms first appear. In instances where the cancer has advanced, this adversely impacts both the treatment and the outcome.
One third of the cancers are preventable while another one third are detectable and can be completely cured.
In identifying risk factors, tobacco chewing, smokeless tobacco, alcohol and smoking have been found to factor in. Persons using such products should be referred to a dentist, the facilities for which are to be provided island-wide very soon by the medical health authorities.
The National Cancer Control Programme explained that areca nut based products, which are commonly taken when chewing betel leaf, were carcinogenic.
Currently there are regulations imposed on smokeless tobacco related products (mainly products like snuff and packets of tobacco coming from India) prohibiting the possession and sale of such, both of which are liable to be prosecuted.
Director of the Programme, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera said that there was a gap in awareness among the people regarding the preventability of cancers and the fact that early detection and treatment is vital.
“There is very good support from the administrators and the clinicians who including the regional directors of health services, medical officers of health, staff of hospitals, medical professionals, dental surgeons and midwives, are working as a team and are willing to engage in control and preventive activities in the field,” he said.