Preventing Oral Cancer
DID YOU KNOW?
- Oral cancer is the most fatal cancer to kill men in India. According to a recent study on cancer mortality in India published in the Lancet, 45,800 people died of oral cancers in 2010.
- The report also revealed that oral cancers were leading cause of death in men in both rural and urban areas.
- The incidence of oral cancers is especially high in U.P, Kashmir, Kerala and West Bengal.
- A report by The New York Times reveals that India has the world’s highest incidence of oral cancers with 75,000 to 80,000 new cases every year. About 2,000 deaths every day are related to tobacco.
- In 2010, the number of oral cancers was more than twice the number of lung cancers in individuals aged 30-69 years, indicating that the range of fatal cancers caused by tobacco in India differs substantially from that in high-income countries.
- The same year tobacco caused 42% (84,000) of cancer deaths among men and 18.3% (35,700) among women.
- According to a 2008 report by WHO, gutka, a popular form of chewing tobacco in India, contains chromium, nickel, arsenic, lead, and tobacco-related nitrosamines, all of which are known carcinogens.
- Statistics suggest that in India, 50 lakh children below 15 years of age are addicted to gutka. As a result the age incidence of oral cancer is going down and is significantly lower than what is reported in the rest of the world.
- Oral occurs most commonly in the lip or the tongue, apart from the cheek lining, floor of the mouth, gums (gingiva) and roof of the mouth (palate).
- Apart from tobacco use, the other causes and risk factors for oral cancer include alcohol and human papillomavirus (HPV).
How Do I Know If I Have Oral Cancer?
The most striking symptom of oral cancer is a sore, a lump or an ulcer in the mouth. There may be a deep, hard-edged crack in the tissue, which is most often pale coloured but may also be dark or discoloured sometimes. The sore, lump or ulcer may develop on the tongue, lip or other area of the mouth. Even though the tumour is painless at first, it may become painful or develop a burning sensation in the advanced stages. Some of the other symptoms that may manifest as a result of oral cancer are chewing problems, difficulty in speaking or swallowing, pain with swallowing, swollen lymph nodes in the neck and weight loss. A history of the oral cancer around the world reveals that the high death rate related to the disease is caused by late detection and not because of any difficulty to discover or diagnose it.
How Can I Prevent Oral Cancer?
Tobacco poses the greatest threat and is considered the most important preventable risk factor for oral cancer. An associate professor from Tata Memorial Hospital, Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi opines that tobacco is no less than a weapon of mass destruction (WMD). Says the doctor, “The number of deaths caused by tobacco related diseases is four times the death-toll in tsunami tragedy. If not tobacco, what else could be a WMD.” Avoiding all forms of smoking and smokeless tobacco, which includes cigarettes, bidis, khaini, gutka, panmasala, etc. has been recommended as the most important step towards the prevention of oral cancer. Other modifiable life-style factors include limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption, proper treatment of dental problems and maintaining a good oral hygiene. In order to avoid an unnecessary delay, certain medical examinations can also be taken as preventive measures. Tests may include X-rays and CT scans apart from gum biopsy and tongue biopsy.
Every healthy individual should have an annual oral cancer checkup, Get oral cancer checkup done today at special checkup centres in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Nashik, Goa, Solapur, Bhilai, Vapi, Jalgaon, Belgaum & More cities
- Cancer Mortality in India, Million Death Study – Lancet
- Oral Cancer Prevention, WHO Perspective
- Global Facts on Oral Health – WHO
- Global Tobacco Epidemic (2008 report)
- India, an epidemic of oral cancer – Business Week
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Head and Neck Cancers. National Comprehensive Cancer Network
- Head and neck cancer – Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine
- Malignant neoplasms of the oral cavity – Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund VJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.