Some disturbing facts
Oral cancer is preventable but the tragedy is that thousands succumb to it each year, reiterates Dr. D.K. Dias, urging that more awareness programmes are needed to arm the people with information.
It has been rated as the sixth commonest cancer in the world, affecting more people in developing rather than developed countries.
The commonest culprits causing oral cancer are tobacco (smoking or chewing), areca-nut, heavy alcohol consumption and betel, the Sunday Times learns.
He gives some shocking data for people to chew on:
Those who smoke and drink have 15 times greater risk, than those who do not, of being affected by oral cancer. Those who smoke heavily and drink heavily are 100 times more at risk than others of being struck down by oral cancer. Heavy drinkers (taking greater than 100gms of alcohol per day) are 30 times more at risk than others of getting oral cancer. Heavy smokers are 15 times more at risk than others of being hit by oral cancer. Warning children and youth against following the so-called fashionable trend or becoming victims of a copycat syndrome, Dr. Dias is waving a brightred flag against such substances as babul.
The symptoms of oral cancer include pre-malignant white patches or lesions and unhealing painless ulcers in the mouth. These wounds would be reddish but because they do not hurt there is late presentation to doctors, says Dr. Dias, adding that most of those hit by oral cancer are in the age-group 55-60 years.
More warnings of disturbing trends come from Dr. Dias:
Recent findings are showing an increasing trend of oral cancer in women, which may be due to increased patterns of smoking and heavy drinking. Younger people, those around 30 years, are also being affected by oral cancer. With 1 in 10 people being at risk of developing cancer in their lifetime, 1 in 64 would be vulnerable to oral cancer. According to him the aetiology of oral cancer differs in developing and developed countries. Due to betel-chewing with tobacco, areca-nut and lime, the developing world is seeing more cheek cancers. With heavy smoking and heavy alcohol intake, the developed world is witnessing more cancers in the tongue and the floor of the mouth. Meanwhile, the human papilloma virus (HPV) and candida super-infection could also be contributory factors for the development of oral carcinoma.