Oral Cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in India. Evidence suggests that India bears the largest burden of oral cancers in the world, with an incidence of around 11.28 percent in Indian men.
It is pertinent to underline that if caught early, oral cancer is also a highly preventable and treatable disease. Incidentally, over 80 percent of all oral cancers are attributed to tobacco usage. So reducing usage of tobacco can go a long distance in significantly reducing incidence of this disease.
Aparna Dhar, medical geneticist and genetic counselor, CORE Diagnostics puts forward five measures one can take to reduce your risk of oral cancer:
# The most widely known yet most difficult to accomplish is to quit the use of tobacco in all its forms. More than 50 percent of oral cancers in India, Sudan, and the Republic of South Sudan, and about four percent of oral cancers in the United States, are attributable to smokeless tobacco products. Smokeless tobacco usually referred to as guktha or khaini increases the risk of oral precancerous lesions and oral cancer between 2-fold and 15-fold. A number of gutka products are being nicely packaged and marketed as safer products today, with their usage proliferating among youngsters. Let not the packaging fool you, tobacco in any form is a ready form of cancerous poison.
# Keep your alcohol intake to a minimal level. Not only will this prove to be good for your liver and heart but it will also reduce your risk of oral cancer. Limit your intake to no more than one drink per day if you're a woman or two drinks per day if you're a man.
# Protect your skin against sun's harmful UV radiation. Excessive and unprotected exposure to the sun is linked with cancer in the lip area. To reduce your risk of lip cancer, decrease your exposure to sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Preferably, stay out of sun, especially between 10 am and 4 pm when sunlight is strongest. Also, use sun protection cream as well as lip balm with a minimum SPF of 30.
# Don't forget the importance of early detection and regular preventive examination. Once a month, perform the ritual of looking inside your mouth thoroughly to check for anything abnormal. Also, undergo regular oral cancer screening by your dentist. Regular examinations by a dentist can help detect oral cavity cancer and some oropharyngeal cancers at an early stage. It is also important to maintain good oral hygiene. People with poor oral hygiene are considered to be at a higher risk of oral cavity cancer.
# Diet is another key weapon in our fight against cancer. A diet low in fruits and vegetables and a vitamin A deficiency is considered to increase the risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancers. Therefore eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.