Written by: Dr Arif Qazi
One disease, which everybody feared of is CANCER. In modern era, we are surrounded by so many factors which directly or indirectly cause cancer. Many a time we know the direct association of certain substance ingestion or use with cancer still we take a chance and continue to use them, underestimating the risk. I would say only a fool can take risks to such an extent that his/her habits take his/her own life.
Here I am presenting the most common example how people make a fool out of themselves….
First lets know What is cancer?
Cancer is uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue.
What is Oral (mouth) cancer?
Oral cancer is the 3rd the most common type which accounts for over 30% of all cancers in India. Almost 80,000 cases are diagnosed every year.
According to the report, almost one million people die of oral cancer in India yearly.
Oral cancers include cancers of the:
floor of the mouth
hard and soft palate.
Most of the time, patient comes to the hospital in late stage but Early detection is the key to for better results.
Who are at risk of oral cancer?
1) Tobacco use in any form like smoking cigarettes, bidi, cigars, and pipes, as well as chewing tobacco quid, khenni.
•Another major problem is the use of betel quid (paan), which is made of pieces of areca nut, processed or unprocessed tobacco, aqueous calcium hydroxide (slaked lime), and some spices wrapped in the leaf of piper betel vine leaf. Gutka, zarda, kharra, mawa, and khainni are also all dry mixtures of lime, areca nut flakes, and powdered tobacco.
•Bidis: Those who smoke bidis have a three-fold higher risk of mouth cancer as compared to nonsmokers.
2) Alcohol intake: People who take large amounts of alcohol and tobacco are at greater risk, especially when both products are used regularly.
Risk increases when both (tobacco and alcohol) taken together.
3) Other risk factors include:
• HPV infection (a sexually transmitted virus)
• Chronic facial sun exposure
• Previous diagnosis of oral cancer
• Family history of oral or other types of cancer
• Sharp tooth
• Chronic Syphilis
• Poor nutrition
• Being male
• Age more than 40yrs
There are studies, which indicate a diet low in fruits and vegetables could be a risk factor.
What are symptoms of oral cancer?
Symptoms of oral cancer include:
•a sore on the lip or mouth that does not heal
•a mass or growth anywhere in the mouth
• white or red patches in mouth or lips
•bleeding from the mouth
•pain or difficulty in swallowing
•loosening of teeth and difficulty in wearing dentures
•swelling in the neck
•ear pain that won’t go away
•sudden weight loss
•numbness in lower lip, face, neck, or chin
•Difficulty in opening mouth
If you notice any of these symptoms, especially if they persist, or you have more than one at a time, visit your dentist or doctor as soon as possible.
White/red patch in the oral cavity or thickening of inner side of cheek causing restricted mouth opening, are curable conditions. If left untreated can lead to cancer.
How is oral cancer diagnosed?
1) Thourough physical examination by doctor. This includes closely examining the whole the oral cavity. lips, tongue, cheek, gums, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate.
2) If your doctor finds any abnormality, he may perform a biopsy. A tissue biopsy involves removing a piece of the tissue so it can be examined under a microscope for cancerous cells.
3) In addition, your doctor may perform one or more of the following tests:
•X-rays to see if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body.
•CT scan to know further details of spread of cancer.
What are the stages of oral cancer?
There are 4 stages of oral cancer. early stages i.e. Stages 1 and 2 usually involve a small tumor. In these stages, cancer cells are limited and have better results.
Stages 3 and 4 are considered advanced stages of cancer. In these stages, tumors are large and the cancer cells usually spread other parts of the body. It has the worse outcome.
So early diagnosis and timely treatment are the key of good results.
How is oral cancer treated?
Treatment for oral cancer depends on the type, location, and stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis.
●Early stages can be treated by surgery to remove the tumor and cancerous lymph nodes.
In addition, other tissues around the mouth and neck may be taken out.
●Radiotherapy where cancer cells are destroyed with radiations is another option.
●Chemotherapy is treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells. The medicines are given either orally or through an intravenous (IV) line.
●Proper nutrition is also an important part of your oral cancer treatment. As surgery or other treatment make it difficult or painful to eat and swallow, and poor appetite and weight loss are common getting proper nutrition is very important part of treatment.
●Last but not the least keeping good oral hygiene during treatment is very crucial.
●While recovering from oral cancer treatment reconstruction of mouth, bones may be required, which are removed during surgery for better cosmetics and functional purpose.
●Speech therapy can also be required after excising tongue or other mouth parts.
●Psychological support is utmost important during whole the process.
How to Prevent Oral Cancer?
To prevent oral cancer:
1. Don’t smoke or use any tobacco products
2. Stop drinking alcohol or drink in moderation
3. Eat a well-balanced diet.
4. Limit your exposure to the sun.
5. Conduct a self-exam at least once a month.
▪Using a bright light and a mirror, look and feel lips and front of gums.
▪Tilt head back and look at and feel the roof of mouth. See the cheeks.
▪Take out tongue and look at all sides. Examine the floor of mouth. Look at the back of the throat.
▪Feel for swelling orenlarged lymph nodes in both sides of neck and under your lower jaw.
6. Visit a doctor immediately if you notice any abnormality.
7. See your dentist on a regularly. Doctor is always the best person to identify any abnormality.
8. Second-hand smoke is also an issue so protect yourself from being a passive smoker.
9) maintain good oral hygiene.
I hope this blog will help you to understand and prevent this deadly disease.
Warning : click here to see the pictures of oral cancer patients. These pictures may cause distress to your mind. My poupose of showing these photos only to show you the graveness of this disease.