April is celebrated as the World Oral Cancer Awareness month to educate people about the rise in global oral cancer cases. Statistics show that nearly one person loses life to oral cancer every day. “Of the people newly diagnosed with these cancers, only about 60% will live longer than 5 years. Moreover, many who do survive suffer long-term problems such as severe facial disfigurement or difficulties eating and speaking,” The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS).
The incident of oral cancer remains fairly high in India with close to 100,000 new cases detected every year. Oral cancer leads to about 50,000 deaths annually in the country. Five-year survival of patients with early oral cancer is between 55 per cent and 60 per cent which decreases to 30 per cent and 40 per cent in cases of advanced oral cancer.
Experts at the Tata Memorial Centre in Mumbai have conducted a study to learn that chronic mouth irritation as a result of ill-fitting dentures may put a person at a risk of developing oral cancer.
“Chronic mucosal irritation resulting from ill-fitting dentures may be considered a risk factor for the development of oral cancer, such cancers occur commonly over the lateral border of the tongue,” stated the study. The research has been conducted by three doctors – Hitesh Rajendra Singhvi, Akshat Malik and Pankaj Chaturvedi – from the Department of Head and Neck Oncology at the Tata Memorial Centre. No association between the duration of denture use and cancer formation has been found.
For the study, they reviewed close to 22 studies from across the world and studied the the association between mucosal trauma and cancer. It was found that nearly 80% of these cancers were linked to tobacco abuse, consumption of areca nut (supari), smoking and alcohol consumption. Only 10 per cent patients suffering from oral cancer may not have any history of such addictions.
The experts also shed light on the unavailability of proper treatment for a large population living in rural areas. Data from the Dental Council of India suggests about 1.5 lakh registered dentists in India for a population of 1.3 billion, out of which 72 per cent live in villages deprived of proper dental care. Low level of awareness among the population and the care providers is one of the biggest contributing factors for the continued neglect of dental care.