Oral cancer ranks in top 3 of all cancers in India accounting for 30% of all cancers in country. It is of significant public health importance to India, as it is diagnosed at later stage leading to low treatment outcome and considerable cost to the patient who typically cannot afford this type of treatment. Secondly major parts of country do not have access to trained cancer care providers and health services.
Important facts about Oral Cancer:
- Early detection offers best chance of long term survival.
- Oral cancer affects those who have high exposure to risk factors such as tobacco. Alcohol and poor oral hygiene also contribute to it.
- Even though clinical diagnosis is via oral cavity examination majority of cases present at later stages of disease.
- Treatment involves multimodality management with surgery playing a prominent role and assisted by chemotherapy and radiation as and when required .
- Best way to win against cancer is prevention and early diagnosis for which widespread awareness is required.
- Prevention is by avoiding tobacco in all forms, avoiding alcohol, maintaing good oral hygiene, consuming healthy diet and regular exercise.
What can you do to prevent oral cancer?
- Immediately stop the use of tobacco and cigarettes
- Limit or quit alcohol use
- Drink plenty of water
- Make your diet rich in fruits and green leafy vegetables
- Avoid direct sun exposure to your lips
- Visit your dentist or a general physician regularly
Common signs and symptoms of oral cancer:
- Pain in the mouth ,neck and in the face
- Pain while eating food or swallowing. You feel discomfort while chewing the food too
- Bad mouth breath
- Drooling, redness, dryness in the mouth
- Ulcers, red and white patches or soreness in the tongue
- White tongue formation
- Abnormal tone of voice and impaired speech
- Bleeding, coughing, enlarged neck lymph nodes, loss of taste, swollen lymph nodes, or weight loss