According to the world health organization, there are more than 500,000 new cases of oral cancer reports yearly. The report also states that more than 250,000 death cases were due to oral cancer. Oral cancer is a threat to the human population and needs addressing with practical measures.
The number is given by the WHO is an estimate of the world in general, and these numbers may seem few, but it is rising at an alarming rate. The need for prevention measures is apparent in the rising number of new cases and deaths caused by oral cancer. According to WHO health education, avoiding the cause of cancer and diagnosis of the disease at an early stage will help bring down the numbers.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is the abnormal growth of sores in the mouth, lips, cheeks, tongue, sinuses, pharynx, hard and soft palate. It can affect one or more of the areas as mentioned above. It is a fatal disease if not diagnosed early for treatment. Causes
Many things depending on each case can cause oral cancer. Here are some of the things that might cause oral cancer.
1. Smoking and substance abuse such as alcohol. Tobacco in cigarette activates the dormant free radicals inducing them to become cancer. Those who smoke, chew or sniff tobacco are more likely to have cancer than those who don’t use tobacco. 60% of people having oral cancer were smokers, and this shows how smoking contributes to the risk of getting oral cancer.
2. Genetic cause. Oral cancer can be genetical if it runs in the family. When a person reaches a certain age, the cancer cells in the body become activated.
3. People who have a particular strain of human papillomavirus (HPV) are also at risk of contracting oral cancer. It is believed to cause oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC).
Who Is At Risk Of Getting Oral Cancer?
- Those who smoke and drink alcohol heavily have a high chance of getting oral cancer. 75% of people who have oral cancer are tobacco and alcohol users, and this proves that these two substances have a relationship with oral cancer.
- Some diseases and drugs lower the immunity of the body and if an individual is taking immune suppressive drugs or they suffer from conditions such as HPV their risk of developing oral cancer is high.
- If you have a family history of oral cancer, you are at risk of getting oral cancer.
- Age is also a contributing factor when it comes to oral cancer, and 66% of those who have oral cancer are above 55 years. This number shows that the older a person is, the higher the chance of contracting oral cancer. When people are aging the immune system becomes weaker hence the likelihood of contracting diseases.
How you can prevent the dangers of oral cancer.
Some of the risk factors can be prevented, but others are not preventable. Here is the list of how you can avoid the dangers of oral health and live a healthy life.
Regular dental visits. You might not think this can prevent oral cancer but it can. It is during the frequent visits to the dentist where dental diseases and cancer can be found in its early stages. Early diagnosis of these conditions can be managed easily and are treated before they grow to an advanced stage where it is hard to handle them.
Stop smoking and alcohol use. Since a high percentage of those who have oral cancer are alcoholics and smokers when they cut down on the use of these two substances the dangers of oral cancer will also reduce. The more they indulge, the more they are getting close to oral cancer.
Protect against ultraviolet light. UV radiations are seen to be a contributing factor to oral cancer and by using a cream or lotion that has sunblock on your lips will help prevent the UV rays from getting inside your body.
Health education. It is necessary for all medical practitioners to provide useful information to their patients to prevent diseases. During the regular visits, the dentist will inform you of possible risks and how to manage and prevent them from avoiding further damage.
Screening. Those who smoke, drink alcohol and have a family history of the disease should be screened at least after three years for individuals who are 20- 40 years and yearly for those above 40 years. The screening will help combat the condition at an early stage to prevent further damage.
Eating healthy. Eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates are right for your oral health and help boost your immunity. Foods rich in calcium will make your teeth strong and healthy.
What are the signs and symptoms?
It is crucial for an individual to know the signs and symptoms of oral cancer for early treatment. Symptoms vary with each person, and an individual can have one or more of the following signs and symptoms.
- A persistent sore throat.
- Difficulty in swallowing, chewing or talking.
- Gums swell.
- The mouth and tongue might have a feeling of numbness, tender, and pain.
- Teeth become loose without a cause.
- Red or white patch lesions in mouth and lips.
- Swelling of the lymph nodes around the neck making swallowing difficulty.
- Drastic weight loss.
- Transforming pain from the ear to the throat and sinuses.
Oral cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth that is lips, throat, pharynx, tongue, sinuses, and larynx. Practicing good oral hygiene, eating healthy food and avoiding lifestyle behaviors that might trigger the onset of oral cancer is the key to good oral health and prevention of oral diseases including oral cancer. Remember never to skip regular dental visits because it is the only way you can screen for oral cancer.