Oral cancer occurs in any parts of the mouth- lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses and pharynx (throat).
It is 100 percent curable only if it is reported in the first stage. Health experts warn that once it goes to the second stage, the patient is left with just five years to live.
In India, the scenario is alarming with one person dying every six hours due to oral cancer. Awareness and preventive tests and early detection can save lives of many patients.
Also, the increase in the use of tobacco among people has tremendously contributed to the rise in cases of oral, head and neck cancer in the country.
Signs and symptoms may include-
Skin lesion, lump or ulcer on the lips, gums and other areas inside the mouth
Difficulty swallowing, chewing or speaking
Unexplained mouth bleeding
Risk factors for oral cancer include- usage of any form of tobacco products, excessive alcohol use, exposure to sun. It is believed that the risk of catching oral cancer rises with age.
Another risk factor is human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus. Studies suggest that HPV may increase the risk of cancer through oral sex.
Apart from medical aid, here's how you can prevent getting oral cancer:
Do not use tobacco: If you are someone who chews or smokes, stop immediately to lessen the risk. If you do not use tobacco, never try it. Tobacco in any form is dangerous to your health and is responsible for most cases of oral cancer.
Use alcohol in moderation: Limit your alcohol intake to a drink per day. Because the risk of oral cancer increases with the number of drinks taken per day. According to experts, oral cancers are about six times more common in drinkers than non-drinkers.
Avoid prolong sun exposure: Excessive exposure to sun may increase the risk of cancer on the lips. Always wear UV-blocking sun protection lip balm or gloss to protect your lips whenever you step out.
Good dental care: Make sure that you brush and floss your teeth regularly because an unhygienic mouth can become vulnerable to cancers while reducing your immune system and suppressing your body's ability to fight off the cancerous cells.
It is important to visit a dentist regularly (at least twice a year) and get oral cancer screening done.
Exercise: Physical activity and exercise are a must for people who wish to stay healthy and fit. Daily exercise can boost your immune system and help protect against cancer.
Eat fruits and vegetables: Include lots of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. The vitamins and antioxidants found in these foods may help reduce the risk of developing an oral cancer.