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Social taboos: a formidable challenge in cancer care
  1. Pallvi Kaul,
  2. Rahul Kumar,
  3. Mahendra Pal Singh and
  4. Pankaj Kumar Garg
  1. Department of Surgical Oncology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Pankaj Kumar Garg; dr.pankajgarg{at}


Taboo surrounding cancer has continued to be a stubborn and refractory public health issue especially in South Asian countries. Disparities in cancer care remain ubiquitous. Differences in the manner in which cancer is perceived, addressed, and treated might partly be a result of varying cultural influences. This case report highlights the clinical course of a female patient with neurofibromatosis who later developed a large facial malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour. The case particularly addresses the catastrophic impact of the ‘cancer-related social taboos’ on various dimensions of cancer care ranging from primary and secondary prevention to definitive management. The financial issues in low-income to medium-income groups as potential deterrents to optimum treatment have also been highlighted. Approach to the common challenges faced by an oncologist practising in a society plagued by misconceptions about health and disease and potential remedial measures to debunk these myths have also been discussed.

  • surgical oncology
  • head and neck cancer

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  • Contributors PK, RK and MPS searched for relevant literature and drafted the manuscript. RK contributed to the clinical care of the patient and edited the manuscript and images. PKG conceived the idea, contributed to the clinical care of the patient and edited the manuscript and images. All the authors approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Next of kin consent obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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