Cancer is one of the biggest public health threats in the modern world. Oral cancers affect more people in developing countries than in the developed countries. Males are more prone to this type of cancer. According to the World Health Organisation, In India, the incidence rate of oral cancer is 12.6 per 100,000 of the population. Tobacco use and excessive alcohol can be blamed for almost 90% of the oral cancers.
Preventing oral cancer
1. Quit smoking or tobacco chewing habits– this is the first step to reducing your chances of developing oral cancer. Substitute tobacco with nicotine gum or other substitutes.
2. Quit excessive drinking: research suggests that no more than 14 units ( 6 pints of beer or 7 glasses of wine). Drinking beyond these healthy levels might substantially increase chances of developing cancer.
3. Visiting a dentist regularly: A broken tooth that is impinging on your cheek, a long standing ulcer etc should be treated promptly by a dentist. These have a possibility of cancerous transformation if left without treatment and needs to be addressed immediately.
4. Healthy and balanced diet: foods rich in vitamins and other essential nutrients can reduce chances of developing cancer.
5. Avoid UV radiation exposure: Risk of developing cancer due to this source is more common in fair skinned individuals. Adequate measures should be taken to protect over exposure to sun by using sun screen or other similar barrier creams.
6. Quit unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is said to be one of the most common causes of oral cancer and this spreads through oral sex. Therefore, precautions should be taken to avoid this.

Early symptoms of Oral Cancer:
Oral cancer can be deducted early and the following are the common symptoms:
1. Non healing , long standing mouth ulcers lasting for over 20 days.
2. White or reddish patch in the inner cheek or lip which cannot be scrapped off
3. Unusual swellings or lumps in the oral cavity or neck
4. Sudden changes in taste or voice
5. Difficulty in chewing, swallowing associated with or without pain
6. Pain or numbness in the ear, neck, facial regions
7. Sudden loosening of teeth
8. Long standing sore throat or hoarseness in voice
9. Sudden excessive salivation or bleeding from the gums
10. Unexplained dryness of mouth or burning sensation
11. Sudden , rapid growth weight loss
A dentist usually can spot oral cancer at a very early stage. Detecting cancer early makes treatment and rehabilitation much easier. Therefore, visiting a dentist every 6 months is very crucial for any adult.
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