Oral Cancer Screening
Oral Cancer Screening: Why it's Important and What to Expect
Oral cancer is a type of cancer that affects the tissues of the mouth or throat. It can occur in any part of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, and gums. According to the American Cancer Society, oral cancer is the 6th most common cancer among men and the 14th most common cancer among women worldwide. It is more common in men than women, and it is the second most common cancer in both sexes in India. Oral cancer is a serious and often deadly disease, but early detection can greatly improve the chances of successful treatment. In this blog post, we will discuss why oral cancer screening is important and what to expect during the screening process.
Most Common in Males
Oral cancer is more common in males than females, and the risk increases with age. Men over the age of 50 are at the highest risk for oral cancer. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the incidence of oral cancer is 1.8 times higher in males than females in India. The higher incidence in men is believed to be due to higher rates of tobacco and alcohol use, which are major risk factors for oral cancer.
Second Most Common in All
Oral cancer is the second most common cancer in the world, with an estimated 657,000 new cases and 330,000 deaths reported in 2020. In India, it is the most common cancer among men and the third most common cancer among women. The incidence of oral cancer is increasing worldwide, especially in developing countries like India. This trend is believed to be due to lifestyle changes such as smoking, tobacco use, and alcohol consumption.
Oral Cavity Cancer is Most Common in India
Oral cavity cancer is the most common type of oral cancer in India, accounting for around 90% of all cases. The most common sites for oral cavity cancer are the tongue, lips, cheeks, and gums. Oral cavity cancer can be caused by a variety of factors, including tobacco and alcohol use, poor oral hygiene, and infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Gujarat- Epicenter for Oral Cancer
Gujarat, a state in western India, has been identified as the epicenter of oral cancer in India. According to a study conducted by the Gujarat Cancer Research Institute, the incidence of oral cancer in Gujarat is two to three times higher than the national average. The high incidence of oral cancer in Gujarat is attributed to the use of smokeless tobacco products like gutka and paan masala, which are popular in the state.
Tobacco and tobacco products are the leading risk factors for oral cancer. Tobacco use can increase the risk of developing oral cancer by up to six times. Smokeless tobacco products like gutka, paan masala, and khaini are especially harmful, as they contain high levels of carcinogens. Smoking and chewing tobacco also increase the risk of other types of cancer, including lung, throat, and esophageal cancer.
These symptoms may indicate the presence of oral cancer and should not be ignored. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor or dentist for an evaluation. Here’s more information about each of these symptoms:
- Leukoplakia: This is a white or gray patch that develops on the tongue, gums, or cheeks. Leukoplakia is usually painless, but it does not go away on its own. It can develop into cancer, so it is important to have it checked out by a doctor or dentist.
- Erythroplakia: This is a red patch that develops on the tongue, gums, or cheeks. Erythroplakia is less common than leukoplakia, but it is more likely to be cancerous. Like leukoplakia, it does not go away on its own and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
- Ulcers: Oral ulcers are common and can be caused by a variety of factors, such as trauma, infection, or an underlying medical condition. However, if you have a persistent sore or ulcer in your mouth that does not heal within two weeks, it could be a sign of oral cancer.
- Pain or difficulty chewing or swallowing: Pain or discomfort when chewing or swallowing can be caused by several factors, including dental problems, infections, and muscle or nerve disorders. However, if the pain or difficulty persists and is not related to an obvious cause, it could be a sign of oral cancer.
- Swelling or lumps in the mouth or throat: Swelling or lumps in the mouth or throat can be caused by a variety of factors, including infections, salivary gland disorders, and cysts. However, if the swelling or lump does not go away within two weeks, it could be a sign of oral cancer.
It is important to note that these symptoms may not always be caused by oral cancer. However, if you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor or dentist for an evaluation to rule out oral cancer or any other underlying medical condition.
Certain populations are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer. These include:
- Tobacco and related products users: smoking, smokeless tobacco
- Alcohol drinkers: Heavy alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing oral cancer. When combined with tobacco use, the risk is even higher.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: This is a type of cancer that commonly occurs in the lining of the mouth, nose, and throat.
- Persistent dental issues: Poor oral hygiene and untreated dental issues can increase the risk of oral cancer.
Improper dentures: Poorly fitting dentures can cause chronic irritation in the mouth, which can increase the risk of oral cancer.
Oral Visual Examination, Neck Examination
Oral cancer screening is a simple and painless procedure that can be done by a dentist or healthcare provider. During the screening, the dentist or healthcare provider will examine the mouth and throat for any abnormalities, such as sores, ulcers, or white or red patches. They will also check the neck for any lumps or swelling. If any abnormalities are detected, further tests may be needed to determine if cancer is present.
Digital Softwares/Pictures/Application for Tele-Screening
Advancements in technology have made it possible to screen for oral cancer using digital software and tele-screening. Digital software and applications can be used to capture images of the mouth and throat, which can then be analysed for any abnormalities. Tele-screening allows patients to undergo oral cancer screening remotely, using video conferencing technology. These technologies can be particularly useful for people who live in remote areas or who have difficulty accessing healthcare services.
Frequency: once a year
Regular oral cancer screening is crucial for early detection and treatment. The frequency of screening depends on several factors, including age, sex, and risk factors. In general, it is recommended to get screened for oral cancer at least once a year. People who are at high risk for oral cancer, such as smokers and heavy alcohol drinkers, may need more frequent screenings.
In conclusion, oral cancer is a serious and often deadly disease, but early detection can greatly improve the chances of successful treatment. Regular oral cancer screening is crucial for early detection and treatment. People who are at high risk for oral cancer, such as smokers and heavy alcohol drinkers, should be screened at least once a year. If you notice any abnormalities in your mouth or throat, such as sores, ulcers, or white or red patches, you should see a dentist or healthcare provider as soon as possible. With regular screening and early detection, oral cancer can be successfully treated, and lives can be saved.
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