ORAL CANCER and its prevention

Cancers of the mouth are among the most preventable cancers,
if caught early.

Oral cancer is the most common cancer in India; as 4 in 10 of all cancers are oral cancers. Annually 130,000 people succumb to oral cancer in India The reason for high prevalence of oral cancer in India is primarily because tobacco is consumed in the form of gutkha, quid, snuff or misri. Oral cancer belongs to a larger group of cancers called head and neck cancers. Most develop in the squamous cells found in the tissues that line the mouth and lips. They are most often discovered after they have spread to the lymph nodes of the neck. Early detection is key to surviving oral cancer.

One of the biggest risk factors of oral cancers are related to tobacco and alcohol use, especially when both products are used on a regular basis. Other risk factors include HPV infection (a sexually transmitted virus),chronic facial sun exposure, a previous diagnosis of oral cancer, a family history of oral or other types of cancer.

Symptoms of oral cancer include a sore on the lips or mouth that won’t heal,a mass or growth anywhere in the mouth, bleeding from the mouth, loose teeth, pain or difficulty with swallowing, trouble wearing dentures, lump in neck, ear-ache that won’t go away, dramatic weight loss; lower lip, face, neck, or chin numbness, white, red patches in mouth or lip . Many times people will notice a sore mouth but usually will not take it too seriously and just wait for it to go away. During this period of waiting, the cancer may be metastasizing or spreading. Regular dental or doctor examinations usually discover many oral cancers. Some of the tests used to confirm the diagnosis include a biopsy along with X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or PET scans to determine if the cancer has spread. Cancers of the mouth are among the most preventable cancers. One of the most important things you can do is visit a doctor once a year for a complete oral examination.

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