Oral cancer belongs to a larger group of cancers known as head and neck cancers.
Oral cancer screening is vital as it can help detect cancer early, and this will enable timely treatment reducing mutilation. Thus, it is the need of the hour to take charge of your oral health, and visit the dentist and follow up from time to time. Oral Cancer is a major problem in India. Oral cancer tends to develop in the tissues of one’s mouth or throat. It includes the cancers of lips, cheeks, tongue, jaw bone, hard and soft palate, sinuses and can be fatal if not tackled at the right time.
The symptoms of oral cancer
One may exhibit symptoms such as white and red patches in the mouth, swelling, lump, poor dental hygiene or eroded areas on the lips, gums or inside the mouth. Bleeding of the mouth, numbness and pain in the area of face or mouth are some other symptoms. Likewise, difficulty in oral swallowing, speaking or moving the tongue and jaw, difficulty in mouth opening, ear pain and unintentional weight loss are the symptoms of oral cancer. Visit your oral surgeon or dentist if you spot any of these symptoms.
People who smoke, chew tobacco and/or betelnut, drink alcohol, or have human papillomavirus (HPV), age (people over 40) and an unhealthy diet can lead to oral cancer. The detection of oral cancer at an initial stage has led to a significant decrease in death rates and sufferings.
Also Read: Treatment Options for Oral Cancer
Detecting oral cancer
- Oral cancer screening can help detect it early before it tends to progress to an advanced stage and hence improve the survival rate. It is essential as it can help detect the pre-cancerous lesions which appropriately treated can prevent the onslaught of oral cancer.
- Your dentist will be able to detect oral cancer with many advanced tools and technology to look for discolouration in the mouth, lumps or any other abnormalities. The screening includes a thorough physical examination and history of the patient.
- Usage of alcohol consumption and tobacco, a history of neck and head radiotherapy, familial history of neck and head cancer, and a personal history of cancer will be checked.
- If any abnormality is detected in the mouth, then the sample (biopsy) of it will be sent for further testing in the lab. The purpose of the screening is to enable early intervention and management to reduce the mortality rate.
Oral cancer prevention tips
Dr Deepak Parikh, Head of Dept of Head & Neck Cancer, Asian Cancer Institute, Surgical Oncologist ACI Cumballa Hill Hospital
- Follow good oral hygiene habits. Brush your teeth twice a day, and go for regular follow-ups.
- Bid adieu to tobacco and alcohol. This is so because people who use them, are more prone to oral cancer.
- Opt for a well-balanced diet by including fresh fruits and green vegetables.
- Conduct self-oral examination at least once a month. Feel for lumps, look for white or red patches, bleeding in the mouth or jaw pain. Consult your dentist if you notice any abnormalities in the mouth.
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