New Delhi,18th March 2024 : Over 800 renowned doctors and medical experts from all over the world are expected to converge for – RGCON 2024 – the flagship annual event of Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre (RGCIRC) to deliberate and discuss the best practices for treatment of Head and Neck cancer.

The 3-day international conference will commence on Friday, March 15 in New Delhi where healthcare experts will collectively chart out a future road map on ‘Head and Neck Cancer: Bridging the Gap from Cure to Survivorship’ – the underlying theme for this year’s RGCON.

It is pertinent to mention that India bears the highest burden of ‘Head and Neck cancer’, accounting for approximately 30-35% of the global cases. ‘Head and Neck cancer approximately accounts for 17% of all newly diagnosed cancer cases in India. According to GLOBOCAN 2020, there will be an expected 2.1 million new cancer cases in India by 2040, a probable increase of 57.5% from the year 2020.

The 22nd annual conference will be attended by Prof. Alok Thakar – Director, National Cancer Institute & Director, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, AIIMS, Delhi, who will be the Chief Guest along with Dr. J.L. Meena, a member of the National Medical Council ‘s Medical Assessment & Rating Board who will be the Guest of Honor among others.

The medical fraternity is expected to provide a diverse array of expertise in head and neck cancer treatment facilitating the exchange of cutting-edge knowledge, techniques, and insights aimed at enhancing patient care and outcomes.

Dr. Mudit Agarwal, Unit Head & Senior Consultant, Head & Neck Oncology, who highlighted the agenda of the conference said, “This year’s conference embodies a convergence of expertise from the four pillars of head and neck cancer treatment: surgery, radiation, medical oncology and pathology. The sessions would promote collaboration among various disciplines, including surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology, pathology, and supportive care.”

 

Commenting upon the central theme of this year’s RGCON, Dr Munish Gairola, Director, Radiation Oncology, RGCIRC, said, “India’s high burden of head and neck cancers is largely attributed to lifestyle habits prevalent in northern regions, particularly smoking and tobacco chewing, a known risk factor. Unlike many cancers, head and neck cancers are largely preventable through lifestyle changes and public health initiatives. The conference will also delve into real-world experiences from diverse regions and healthcare facilities across the globe.”

Dr. Sunil Pasricha, Senior consultant, Pathology, RGCIRC and Dr Vikas Arora, Consultant, surgical oncology, RGCIRC will also share their knowledge in effective prevention and treatment of head and neck cancer. Both are members of the organizing committee of RGCON 2024.

The conference will prioritize discussions on the rehabilitation of head and neck cancer patients. Dr. Sumit Goyal, Associate Director, Medical oncology, said, “Head and neck cancer patients often face numerous rehabilitation challenges, including cosmetic concerns, swallowing and speech difficulties. There will be a dedicated session with experts in nursing, speech pathology, swallowing therapy, and physiotherapy to address these crucial aspects of rehabilitation, underscoring their significance alongside primary therapy.”

 

The international conference will also focus discussions on formulating treatment approaches for head and neck cancer patients, primarily from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Elaborating on the same Dr. Rajat Saha, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, said, “Approximately 70% of our patient population presents with locally advanced cancer due to delayed detection, resulting in a cure rate of only 30-40%. To improve survival rates, there is a critical need to raise awareness about tobacco abstinence and encourage early check-ups with dental or ENT surgeons for timely diagnosis.”

Some of the key sessions in the conference include advanced treatment modalities like proton therapy and Brachytherapy, as well as the use of AI in head and neck cancer care. Other sessions will include SSI Mantra – The Indian Surgical Robot, showcasing advancements in robotic surgery, immunotherapy for laryngeal preservation, cost-effective reconstruction methods for oral cancer patients, voice-preserving and robotic surgeries, and facial reanimation techniques.

Various workshops and case studies will also be discussed and deliberated during the 3-day conference. The conference also offers a platform for caregivers as well, reaffirming the commitment to shared knowledge and patient-centric care.

With an emphasis on multidisciplinary collaboration, the conference endeavors to foster a holistic approach to addressing the complexities of head and neck cancers.