Ever felt swollen inside your mouth, or thickening of a particular area or some rough crusts or eroded areas? You might as well keep a watchful eye on whether you are developing red or speckled or velvety white patches inside your mouth. As unwelcome as these instances may sound, but the truth is that they might be the very first of the signs auguring the onset of an oral cancer.
When it comes to the Indian context, the number of new cancer cases recorded every year exceeds a skyrocketing 7 lakhs out of which more than 3.5 lakhs are terminal cases.
Let us turn our attention towards the causative and risk factors of oral cancer. Till 2010, around 34.6% of adults of which 47.9% were males and 20.3% were females consumed tobacco according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey. And when it comes to smokeless tobacco, the figures are nowhere near promising; 25.9% adults out of which 32.9% are males and 18.4% are females.
Speaking of certain basic facts and phenomena characteristic of oral cancer, it necessarily originates in the oral cavity. The parts of the oral cavity are complex; the lips, then lining of the cheeks, the hard and soft palates, the tongue, the area underneath it, gums, uvula and tonsils. Oral cancer occurs when there is an abnormal growth in the number of cells in any of the above mentioned parts of the oral cavity. Sometimes it is also known as head or neck cancer.
The risk factors can be many. Alcohol and tobacco consumption are the most commonly known and go a long way to cause oral cancer. Other causative factors may also include extreme exposure to the sun where your lips are more likely to be affected. If one already has some form of head or neck cancer, he or she is also vulnerable to the risks of oral cancer. Apart from these, if one is exposed to a HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) infection also, the risks of oral cancer are magnified.
The symptoms as mentioned earlier may show up as patches which are white or red or a mix of these colors. If one has a persistent difficulty in swallowing, bleeding or loose teeth, these might also indicate oral cancer. A sore in the mouth which won’t heal, earaches or lumps on the neck also indicate a possibility of being afflicted with oral cancer.
The preventive measures to keep the risks of oral cancer at bay would be early detection. This can be done by paying the regular visits to your dentist for getting the signs of cancer checked specifically. This is of utmost importance since regular checkups in most cases are able to detect the very first signs that might possibly lead to an occurrence of oral cancer. While diagnosing your physician usually examines the tissues in your mouth for abnormalities as part of the routine examination.
Although there’s no vaccine against cancer, it is up to us to curb the activities and behaviors which contribute a great deal in causing oral cancer, through spreading awareness about the malignant disease.