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World Health Day: Myths and facts about oral cancer

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cancerCancer is defined as the irrepressible growth of cells that invade and cause damage to the surrounding tissue. Oral Cancer looks like a growth or sore in the mouth that does not heal. Oral Cancer is among the top three cancers in India; number one among all cancers in men and number three among the women. Most of the people, trivialise the problem or self-diagnose by making a guess; relying excessively on information received from the internet or from the social networking sites. The human psyche, further aggravates this problem by making you believe what you think is right.

Here we help you understand some facts about oral cancer:

MYTH 1: I AM TOO YOUNG TO GET ORAL CANCER

Fact: Cancer has no age; it only has an etiological agent. Since tobacco is consumed at any age, Cancer can develop at any age too!!

 MYTH 2: SMOKING IS ONLY WAY ONE CAN GET ORAL CANCER

Fact: The six ‘S’ of Oral Cancer.

  1. Smoking (chewing tobacco included) – 80% of them
  2. Spirit (Alcohol)
  3. Sharp teeth (predispose a person to chronic mucosal trauma)
  4. Spices
  5. Sexually Transmitted diseases (HPV, HIV)
  6. Syndromes (Genetic diseases)

Newer forms of tobacco consumption are further adding to the disease burden, this includes Vaping, Hookah etc.

MYTH 3:  IF THERE IS NO PAIN, I DO NOT HAVE TO WORRY

Fact: Many people think pain is a symptom of Cancer. Sometimes cancerous lesions do not cause any pain. That is why regular screenings are extremely important; especially if you are addicted to tobacco consumption (in some form).

MYTH 4: IF ORAL CANCER RUNS IN MY FAMILY, THEN I WILL GET IT TOO

Fact: Family history does play a vital role in Oral Cancer. If you have a strong family history of Oral Cancer, it is imperative to get yourself screened regularly. Oral Cancers are generally not genetic; they are mostly due to tobacco consumption. Eating healthy, stopping tobacco consumption in all forms and limiting alcohol are some of the things that you can do to avert the threat of Oral Cancer.

WHY EARLY DETECTION IS IMPORTANT?

  1. One can guarantee complete cure
  2. Early stage cancers can be treated minimally by laser and other less invasive procedures which cause less scarring
  3. Advanced stage cancers require mutilating surgeries. Best to avoid them by detecting them early

(Writer is Dr Donald Babu,Consultant Surgical Oncologist, Hiranandani Hospital. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)

 

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