Staying ahead of oral cancer

Staying ahead of oral cancer

Staying ahead of oral cancer

Express News Service

KOCHI: Currently, oral cancer is the most common condition affecting many, even outnumbering lung cancer. In women, it is the fourth most commonly occurring cancer after breast, cervical, and thyroid cancer. Tobacco use in any form, alcohol intake, over exposure to sunlight, areca nut chewing, viral infections and many other other factors contribute to the onset of oral cancer.

However, if detected early, it can be cured completely. A group of lesions seen in the oral cavity known as precancerous lesions and conditions help in early detection. The common ones are leukoplakia, erythroplakia, oral submucous fibrosis etc. Leukoplakia appears as a painless white lesion whereas erythroplakia is red in colour.

Any ulcer, even if it’s painless, persists without healing for more than two weeks, needs to be examined by a dentist. Therefore, daily self-examination of the cheeks, tongue and lips during brushing and frequent visit to a dentist when you suspect any abnormality may help in prompt diagnosis.

1. Avoid the use of tobacco products. Smoking has been linked to various types of cancers including lung, mouth, throat, and larynx. Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Passive smoking also increases your risk of lung cancer. If you need help quitting tobacco, ask your doctor about tobacco cessation programmes.

2. Eat healthy. Plan your diet including fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods such as whole grains. Avoid alcohol intake. A report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that eating large amounts of processed meat and some food additives and colouring agents can increase the risk of oral cancer.

3.Excercise regularly. In addition to helping you control your weight, physical activity on its own might lower the risk of cancer. 

4.Use sunscreen. Too much exposure to sunlight often causes cancer of the lower lip known as the countryman’s lip. Stay out of the sun between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are strongest.

 5.Make regular self-examination a habit. Do a dental checkup every six months a and carry out  proper oral self-examination for at least two minutes daily. Check areas like outer and inner surfaces of lips, inside of the cheek, sides, outer and under the surface of tongue, palate and gums for any red and white patches or swelling or non-healing ulcers lasting more than three weeks.  The author is a convenor of the council for dental health & awareness, Indian Dental Association, Thiruvananthapuram

Published at Tue, 24 Nov 2020 00:45:00 +0000

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