Oman Wellness: Be aware before it is too late — oral cancer

Lifestyle Saturday 23/December/2017 18:41 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman Wellness: Be aware before it is too late — oral cancer

Your mouth is one of the most sensitive part of your body, or we can say, it is like a mirror of your overall health. Awareness of any slight change in your mouth can give a clue about many diseases, including oral cancer. Many a time, people ignore the changes in their mouth, and hence, delay consulting with the doctor or they feel embarrassed.
Maybe it is nothing to worry about, but if you notice any symptoms that are ongoing or persisting for a long duration, unexplained, or does not have any obvious cause, it is always better to have a regular check-up done to assure healthy life. It is important to know “what is cancer?”
It is basically the production of abnormal cells in an uncontrolled way, and these extra cells harm your body by formation of a tissue mass, lump or a growth called a tumour. There are many different early changes implying cancer, such as ulcer or a sore, a new growth or a lump, or a red or white patch that has been present for more than three weeks. Having any of the above-mentioned symptoms does not always mean that you have cancer, but it could be a sign of something that needs early diagnosis and treatment.
Most of the cancers have four stages, and staging helps the doctor to plan effective treatment, predict the recovery and consequences. People with early lesions have better chances/odds for cure, with less treatment, associated problems, and moreover, it is cost-effective for all the socio-economic status. It helps to improve the survival of the person concerned and enhance the quality of life. The most logical approach to decrease morbidity and mortality associated with oral cancer is early detection and curing of suspicious lesions.
Cancer is relatively more common in older men, but of late, increasing incidence is being seen in young adults and even women due to certain habits. Predominantly it is associated with the six ‘Ss’– smoking, spirits, syphilis, spice, sharp tooth and sunlight. The major risk factors are habits such as smoking and high alcohol consumption.
Smokers are three times more likely than non-smokers to develop oral cancer, and those who smoke and drink are 30 times more prone to the deadly disease. Some other risk factors are excessive use of tobacco and related products and chewing betel nuts, over a considerable period of time, and also diet rich in red and processed meat, fried foods and prior radiation treatment, besides hereditary factors.
We believe that as clinicians, our responsibility is not only to diagnose and treat patients but also to reduce the incidence of cancer by educating the population, as oral cancer is the most common preventable cause of death.
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Dr Rashmi Maheshwari (BDS) is a dentist at Shinas Dental Clinic in Azaiba, Muscat.