" Can you tell me if I am going to be alright ?" My friends spoke to me last night. They said, ‘It’s snowing  here. Come!’ I said, ‘I can’t come. But may be next  year ... I hope I get well soon.’ They said 'snow would fall every year'.

Many patients travel from Bhutan to India for treatment of cancer. Over the period 2011 to 2018, a total of 1209 cancer patients from Bhutan have been treated in Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata. Majority of these patients were supported and funded by the government of Bhutan. With rapid development of oncology facilities in Bhutan we hope all treatment will be available locally in future reducing the need to travel far. 

"Cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality in Bhutan. A Population based cancer registry was started in Bhutan in 2014. HPV infection is one of the major causative agent for carcinoma cervix. A national cervical cancer screening program is already in place since 2000 and HPV vaccination for young girls were introduced since 2010. Lifestyle related risk factors like smoking, tobacco chewing, alcohol and betel nut chewing are very important risk factors for cancer of the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx and larynx. Dietary factors are also thought to be an important risk factor for certain cancers like stomach cancer especially in the Western districts where the incident is quite high."

Contributed by Dr.Phub Tshering

Head and Neck Surgeon

Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital, Bhutan

Alumnus, Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata