Oral Cancer and its prevention

A slight elevation and redness near the last lower teeth
with a 40 year history of chewing tobacco. Biopsy revealed Oral
cancer. Surgery has been performed successfully since the case was
detected early.

Oral cancer is the cancer developing in the various sites of the oral cavity like gingiva, lip, tongue, buccal mucosa, floor of mouth, etc.

In 2008, an estimated number of 263,000 new cases were detected and around 127,000 people died due to oral cancer worldwide (Globocan 2008, IARC). Oral cancer is more common among the men than the women and in the developing countries than the developed ones. In South Central Asia where Nepal lies, it falls among the top 3 cancers. The mortality due to oral cancer too is very high in this region mostly owing to the late detection of the case and lack of proper healthcare facilities.

Risk factors for oral cancer– Tobacco by far is the major risk factor along with alcohol. And together they have a synergistic role in occurrence of oral cancer. Smokeless tobacco products such as gutkha, sweet leaves (paan), chilim, etc. too have been established as risk factors. Also, the family history of oral cancer may predispose a person to higher risk of oral cancers.

Another alarming finding nowadays is the increase in the number of younger non smoking people presenting with oral cancer in contrast to the normal occurrence in the older age groups of >40 years who were smokers. It has been revealed in various researches that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) especially the 16 strain, which can be sexually transmitted among partners, is responsible for this type of oral cancer.

Precancerous Lesions and Conditions – These can be thought of as signals that our body gives to us; trying to say that if you continue further with the habit, you might get cancer. These are white and red lesions on the affected areas which might not be scrapable. There is a chance that these lesions will convert into oral cancer in no time. Therefore if you detect any red or white lesion inside the mouth, it is advised to visit the dentist or a specialist right away.

Signs and Symptoms – Includes red (erythroplakia) and white (leukoplakia) lesions in the mouth, an ulcer/ sore that will not heal any type of swelling in the mouth and the neck, mobile teeth and bleeding in the mouth. It usually is painless and is detected later by the patient thus leading to late diagnosis and poorer prognosis of treatment.

Treatment – The treatment for oral cancer is similar to other cancers, i.e. surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and sometimes the combination of these three.

In addition to conventional cancer treatments, dental care plays a crucial role in managing oral cancer. Patients undergoing radiation therapy may experience oral complications such as dry mouth, mucositis, and increased risk of dental decay.

Therefore, regular dental check-ups before, during, and after cancer treatment are essential to monitor oral health and address any issues promptly. Dentists can provide preventive measures like fluoride treatments and mouth rinses to minimize the impact of radiation on oral tissues.

Moreover, they can recommend specialized oral hygiene practices to maintain oral health throughout the treatment process. For comprehensive information on oral health during cancer treatment and beyond, individuals can View Website to access resources and guidance tailored to their specific needs.

Early detection for oral cancer is possible with self examination every month and visiting the dentist or specialist for further investigations when required. Prevention is the key to a healthy life. It has been proven by data that 1/3 rd of all the cancers in the world is preventable if we refrain from tobacco and alcohol, do regular physical activity and then eat a healthy diet.

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