why a program on Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is the most
common cancer in India and according to Dr Geoff Craig “People are dying of oral cancer because of ignorance”.
So Sangeeta Darvekar Charitable Trust thought of a mass awareness program about oral cancer, its causes, its treatment and
resultant problems and the way of preventing this cancer.
Some Stunning news
We approached Dr Surendra Shastri head of preventive oncology at TATA MEMORIAL
HOSPITAL and he gave us a stunning information that ”There are about 7,00,000 new cases of cancers ever year in India
out of which tobacco related cancers are about 3,00,000, cancer of uteri are 1,00,000 and 80,000 breast cancer. Cost of treatment
of oral cancer is about 3.5 lakh. This can be completely prevented by simple changes in lifestyle and regular screening and
even have health benefits that reach beyond cancer. About 2000 deaths a day in India is tobacco related.”
On receiving this stunning news we thought
of enquiring for the reason of such high incidence of oral cancer. We found that the reason for such high prevalence of oral
cancer in India was primarily because of the most common form of tobacco consumption is keeping the tobacco in mouth. Be it
in the form of Gutka, Quid, snuff or misri and so on. Tobacco when kept in mouth leaches out carcinogens, which act on oral
mucosa causing neoplastic changes. Habit of smoking is also equally dangerous. Tobacco contains potent carcinogens including
Nitrosamines (nicotine), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Nitrosodiethanolamine, Nitrosoproline, and polonium. Tobacco smoke
contains carbon monoxide, Thiocyanate, hydrogen cyanide, nicotine and metabolites of these constituents.
Common form of tobacco consumption in India
Gutka is a mixture of betel nut and chewing tobacco. It is extremely addictive and
is apparently targeted at youngsters.
Quid is the mixture of tobacco and lime and extensively consumed in India.
The tobacco when kept in mouth leaches out carcinogens, which act on the mucosa causing
precancerous lesions, which lead to cancer.
According to the B.B.C ‘4 in 10 of all cancers in India are oral cancers’.
This is because of extensive use of tobacco and betel quid.
There are three most common precancerous lesions seen in the mouth and they are
1. Oral leucoplakia
It is characterized by white patch on the buccal mucosa or any place in the mouth and
is adjacent to the place where the tobacco quid is kept. The less likely place is floor of the mouth and tongue although 93%
of leucoplakia at this sites turn malignant.
This is characterized by red velvety patch, which is not associated with any trauma
or inflammation. It may present with or without leucoplakia. This lesion is easily missed out but is considered to have great
Oral sub mucous fibrosis.
This condition is characterized by limited opening of mouth and burning sensation on
eating of spicy food. This is a progressive lesion in which the opening of the mouth becomes progressively limited, and later
on even normal eating becomes difficult.
It occurs almost exclusively in India and Indian communities living abroad.
Professor Newell Johnson
an expert oral surgeon said, ”we know this condition, oral sub mucous fibrosis has highest rate of transferring to malignancy
of any of the so called pre-malignant lesions in the mouth. It is a very serious condition.” The next stage after the
precancerous lesion is the Cancerous lesions. The most common form of cancer is Squamous cell carcinoma. It normally starts
from any of the precancerous lesion in the mouth.