NEW DELHI: Oral cancer refers to the cancers that occur in the mouth, lips, tongue, cheeks, palate or throat and are among the most common forms of cancers in India. In fact, oral cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men. India bears the largest burden of oral cancers in the world, with an incidence of around 11.28 percent in Indian men.
It is important to propagate that oral cancer is also a highly preventable and treatable disease if detected early. Incidentally, over 80% of all oral cancers can be attributed to tobacco usage.
By eliminating the use of tobacco and following healthy lifestyles, you can significantly reduce your risk of oral cancer.
According to, Aparna Dhar, Medical Geneticist and Genetic Counselor, CORE Diagnostics, here are 5 measures you must take:
- Quit tobacco in all its forms
More than 50 percent of oral cancers in India are attributable to smokeless tobacco products. Referred usually as gutka or khaini in India, smokeless tobacco increases the risk of oral precancerous lesions and oral cancer between 2-fold and 15-fold. Unfortunately, gutka products are being packaged and marketed as safer products today, with youngsters increasingly falling for them. Let not the packaging befool you, tobacco in any form is a ready form of cancerous poison.
- Quit or minimize use of alcohol
Excessive alcohol consumption is another risk factor for oral cancer. It is advisable to limit your alcohol intake to a minimal level. Not only will this prove to be good for your liver and heart, but it also reduces your risk of oral cancer. Do not drink more than one drink per day if you’re a woman or two drinks per day if you’re a man.
- Use skin protection
Excessive exposure to the sun is also linked to increased risk of cancer in the lip area. To reduce this risk, you must try to limit your exposure to sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This does not mean you must avoid the sun altogether. However, it is advisable to stay out of the sun particularly between10 am and 4 pm when sunlight is strongest. Also, use sun protection cream as well as lip balm with a minimum of SPF 30.
- Undergo preventive examinations
Early detection and regular preventive examination are key to surviving oral cancer. It is important to thoroughly examine your mouth regularly to be able to spot any abnormal growth or lesion. Also, make sure to 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 as people with poor oral hygiene are at a higher risk of oral cavity cancer.
• Eat a balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables
A diet rich in vitamins and minerals is a potent weapon against cancer as it contains antioxidants that keep the body healthy. A diet low in fruits and vegetables and a vitamin A deficiency is considered to increase the risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancers. It is therefore advisable to consume generous servings of fruits and vegetables daily.