Why the majority of oral cancer patients are from India

19, Sep 2017


Why the majority of oral cancer patients are from India
Oral cancer is quickly becoming a global health concern. It is recognized as a grave problem in Indian subcontinent where it accounts for over thirty per cent of all cancers reported in medical records.

Prevalence of oral cancer in India

According to medical reports, more than 5 people in India die every hour everyday due to oral cancer. It is to be mentioned that mortality may be higher than estimated, as many oral cancer cases in rural parts of India are unrecorded.

Since, oral cancer is usually reported at advanced stages, it shows very low treatment success rate. The cost of the cancer treatment is also very high and patients from lower income group typically cannot afford this treatment. On top of that, inadequate access to health services makes this problem even worse.

Earlier detection of oral cancer and better access to health services increase the treatment success rate and survival rate. According to recent studies, oral cancer has been found to be more common in people who belong to lower economic backgrounds. Heavy exposure to tobacco and alcohol is mainly responsible for oral cancer among them.

Diagnosis of oral cancer can be easily done by the examination of the oral cavity and tongue using basic diagnostic tools. But the majority of oral cancer cases in India are reported at advanced stage which reduces the possibility of survival. Early detection and timely prevention of oral cancer can reduce the incidences of disease significantly. India has categorised oral cancer as a grave problem and efforts are being made to increase the awareness about this dreaded disease.

Major risk factors for oral cancer in India

 Cancer experts have found out that chewing of Paan (betel leaf) with processed or unprocessed form of tobacco may cause oral cancer. Habit of chewing paan is widely prevalent in many parts of rural India. Usually, the paan is kept in the cheek and chewed or sucked for hours; some users keep it in while sleeping also.

It has been noted that this type of cancer is more common among men than women. Experts believe that the possibility of developing oral cancer mainly depends on the duration and frequency of tobacco use. Smoking can lead to cancer in the mouth or throat whereas oral tobacco products such as gutkha are responsible for cancer in the cheeks, gums, and inner parts of the lips. Alcohol consumption is also a big risk factor for oral cancer and roughly 70% of people diagnosed with this type of cancer are found to be heavy drinkers.

Apart from consumption of tobacco products and alcohol, heavy exposure to UV rays, age and family history may also increase the risk developing oral cancer.

Regular oral check-ups for detection of oral cancer

When it comes to avoiding costly cancer treatment, prevention is the key. Therefore, it's important for everyone to monitor the mouth for any changes and to visit a dentist for oral cancer screenings. This will ensure the detection of oral cavity cancer at the earliest stages. After oral cancer screening, dentists can make recommendation depending on how far the disease has progressed.

Regular trips to dentist’s office can help you identify cavities and start treatment right away. Make it a point to see your dentist at least once every six month as dental check up is essential for good oral health and it is a great way of detecting oral cancer in its primary stages, too.

It’s better to prevent a disease than to face negative consequences later on; professional teeth cleaning and preventative treatments like sealants can protect your teeth from cavities. Dentists work most closely with the mouth, and examine it most carefully therefore they have a big role to play in oral cancer detection. As stated earlier, oral cancer like several other forms of deadly cancers can be difficult to treat in advanced stages. Catching early signs of oral cancer can offer greater chance for recovery and rescue many people.

Treatment for oral cancer usually involves chemotherapy and radiation which can cause various oral complications like mouth sores, dry mouth (xerostomia) and infections. Dentists can help cancer survivors manage such complications.  Dentists can support cancer patients in dealing with challenges and cope with these situations.



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