Oral Cancer: Low key yet deadly.

photo_2019-03-28_15-33-11Everybody wants to be at the top but there is certainly one thing that we should be extremely happy for not making it to the top 3, 5, and 10, IT IS ORAL CANCER. According to livescience.com, a well-informed article made by Amanda Chan declared that oral cancer did not make it to the cut. Making lung and Bronchial Cancer as the real deal in taking 792,495 lives followed by colon and rectal cancer for taking 268,783 lives as identified by the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) So we should not worry, about oral cancer right? The answer is No! This disease while uncommon is undeniably terrible.

Mouth cancer or oral cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth. On the surface of the tongue, the lips, inside the cheek, in the gums, in the roof and floor of the mouth, in the tonsils, and in the salivary glands. It is a type of head and neck cancer which is treated similarly with other head and neck cancers. This includes those cancers that occur in the mouth itself, in the very back of the mouth known as the Oropharynx, and on the exterior lip of the mouth. For more than a decade, there has been an annual increase in the rate of occurrence of oral and Oropharyngeal cancers. This is expected to continue as there is no screening policy or protocols and the risk factors for the disease continue to be relatively unchanged.

We may have an idea that smoking can lead to oral cancer but now that the times have changed, one more culprit has stepped into the picture, the human papillomavirus (HPV). According to an article made by the Manila Times, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that people infected with HPV  are 32 times more likely to develop oral or throat cancers compared to the increased risk associated with smoking (three times more likely to develop these cancers) and drinking alcohol (2  times more likely). Unfortunately, HPV is one of the most common virus groups in the world. People with oral or oropharyngeal cancer linked to HPV infection tend to be younger and are less likely to be smokers and drinkers.

Another statistics from the worldlifeexpectacy.com showed the latest World Health Organization (WHO) data published in 2017 wherein Oral Cancer deaths in the Philippines reached 3,297 or 0.53% of total deaths making it #45 in the world while Papua New Guinea has the highest rate which is 19.68% followed by Bangladesh with 13.43%.
Just like in all types of cancer, the earlier the detection, the greater the chance of a cure. While you should schedule an annual visit with your family dentist or oral and maxillofacial surgeon for a complete oral health examination, performing monthly self-exams is also important. In the early stages, there are often no signs or symptoms, but smokers and heavy drinkers should have regular checkups with the dentist, as they may identify early signs.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue, usually red or red and white in color
  • Mouth ulcers or sores that do not heal
  • Swelling that persists for over 3 weeks
  • A lump or thickening of the skin or lining of the mouth
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Loose teeth with no apparent reason
  • Poorly fitting dentures
  • Jaw pain or stiffness
  • Sore throat
  • A sensation that something is stuck in the throat
  • Painful tongue
  • Hoarse voice
  • Pain in the neck or ear that does not go away
  • Having any of these symptoms does not mean that a person has mouth cancer, but it is worth checking with a doctor.

What you can do?

All you need is a mirror and a bright light. Look inside your lips, the back and front of your gums, the roof of your mouth, both sides of your tongue and inside your cheeks. Also, check for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes on both sides of the neck including under the lower jaw.

Prevention

A number of lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of mouth cancer.

These include:

  • Quitting or avoiding tobacco
  • Maintain a monogamous relationship
  • Consuming alcohol in moderation or not at all
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure and using sunscreen on the lips
  • Avoiding junk foods, saturated fats, and processed meats
  • Evidence suggests that the chance of developing cancer of all types is lower among those who exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet, with plenty of fruit, vegetables, fish oil, olive oil, whole grains, and small amounts of lean animal or plant-based protein.

Share this article and spread the information. Awareness can go a long way in saving lives and reducing the risk of getting Oral Cancer.

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