The Foundation of Head & Neck Oncology (FHNO) grew out of the desire to give quality care to patients suffering from head and neck cancer through the use of the combined knowledge of its caregivers through evidence based guidelines & treatment protocols pertinent to this country along with research and training for its early diagnosis and better treatment outcome.
The Founder Fathers of FHNO in 2001, were dedicated Otolaryngologists who were practicing head and neck cancer surgery for more than three decades. It was their combined skill and vision that drew into the fold of the Foundation many more Otolaryngologists similarly involved with on head & neck cancer care across the cities and town throughout the country. The creation of such a platform gave these physicians a scope to share and discuss their skills and knowledge especially during the Annual National Meetings of FHNO. Soon the scientific deliberations at this meeting and the scientific temperament of such gathering drew the interest of other specialties who were contributing equally to the care of head and neck cancer patients across the nation. This allowed FHNO to widen its scope to take into its folds Surgical Oncologists, Radiation Oncologists, Maxillofacial Surgeons, Medical Oncologist and other allied Subspecialists to strengthen its resources and enrich its meetings with more balanced multidisciplinary discussions.
As Head & neck Oncology gained its unique Subspeciality for the country, through the sustained effort of FHNO supported by the Regional Cancer Institutes and the Medical Colleges, more and younger physician especially interested in the subject began to participate in these deliberations across the country. Multiple focused head & neck CMEs began to be organized under the patronage of FHNO which brought about a semblance of uniformity in the quality of care for those patients suffering from cancer of the head & neck region. Institutions began to have separate head and neck services to deal with the patient load in a more systematic manner rather than subjecting them it lesser-interested physician. Head & Neck Oncology soon had its own master’s degree course (MCh) under MCI and head & neck departments across the country could provide more structured training courses in the subject. However without focused, multi-institutional research into the disease, FHNO as a body has not been able to come up with guidelines or screening protocols relevant to the country, even though its large membership has the potential to harness big data for scientific analysis.
Head and neck cancer has remains a major disease problem in India. Because most patients require a multimodality treatment through a combination of surgery, radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy and targeted therapy, the cost and duration of the entire treatment protocol can be a significant burden on the patient and the health system. The difficulty of treating these patients arise form multiple factors, the most prominent of which is that almost all treatment arms affects the patients speech and swallowing beside subjecting the patient to prominent appearance deformity. Because the face and neck cannot remain covered, often such deformity leaves a psychological scar on the patients. Hence the quality of life issue for these groups of patients also becomes a subject that needs proper attention. To compound to this is that the vast majority come from the lower socioeconomic sections of society and hence they are unable to reach in time or delay their treatment or become noncompliant after starting treatment. This produces frustration amongst the caregivers working in remote isolated clinics. FHNO in such situations help by providing a platform for sharing and learning from each other’s experience for mutual satisfaction.
The Annual meetings of FHNO hence is an event head and neck caregivers wait eagerly each year to attend both for meeting as well as sharing. The Governing Body of FHNO takes its responsibility equally seriously and lives up to its promises by inviting prominent faculty from National & International Institutes to share their expertise. Such scientific deliberations give the FHNO a respectability that very few national bodies can claim. It is the responsibility of each and every member of FHNO to nurture and strengthen these ideals of the Foundation so that our patients can benefit for our accumulated knowledge and strength.