The Fiji Times

Rise in oral cancer


ORAL cancer is on the rise in Fiji with two to three or even more cases diagnosed per month, says Health Ministry oral health and wellness officer Loata Tuiloma.

Ms Tuiloma said a survey in 2004 revealed an 88.8 per cent tooth decay in six year olds.

“We conducted another survey finding in 2012 till date and that is expected to be released soon,” she said.

“From this we hope there is a decrease rather than an increase.”

She said Fiji had three main oral health problems.

“Tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer are the main three oral health problems.

“In our mouth we have different types of bacteria and some of these bacteria are disease causing ones and they need sugar to start their action. So, when sugar goes in they feed on it and release acid which attacks the white part of our teeth.”

Ms Tuiloma said the risk factors of oral cancer include excessive use of alcohol and tobacco use among many others.

“The same virus that causes cervical cancer is also found in oral cancer too.”

She added that oral health problems were connected to rheumatic heart disease.

“We know that majority of the population would rather wait until last minute in all cases like with tooth decay, people will only come in for checkup once there’s swelling.

“If in some cases individual­s present late, it will become infected and any infection of the mouth drains to the veins which then drains directly to the heart.

“That is why we work closely with creating awareness on rheumatic heart disease (RHD) because bacteria responsibl­e for RHD is found in the mouth.”

Ms Tuiloma urged Fijians to keep their mouths clean and change from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one.

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