World Cancer Day: Can oral cancer affect non-smokers too? Causative factors, preventive measures and early detection

Oral cancer, a silent enemy, appears in the oral cavity, affecting areas such as the lips, tongue and throat. Its lethal nature lies in its often unnoticed early symptoms, which range from persistent mouth sores to difficulty swallowing. In Delhi, where lifestyle factors play a vital role, awareness becomes paramount. It is important to highlight preventive measures such as regular dental checkups and cessation of tobacco use.

In conversation with Zee News English, Dr. Ashish Gupta, USA-trained, American board-certified medical oncologist, Head of Medical Oncology, Unique Hospital Cancer Center, Dwarka India, shares how oral cancer affects non-smokers too. And told about preventive care.

While many people know that smoking can cause oral cancer, it is not the only cause. We have seen many patients who have never smoked getting this type of cancer. Let’s see what those reasons are and how we can stay safe.

1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV): Some high-risk types of HPV, such as HPV-16, are linked to oral cancer. You can become infected with these viruses through activities like oral sex or through close contact with an infected person. HPV-related oral cancer is becoming more common in non-smokers. This virus also causes other cancers in women like cervical cancer, anal cancer, penile cancer, vulvar and vaginal cancer. The HPV vaccine can prevent these cancers.

2. Alcohol consumption: Drinking too much alcohol may increase the risk of mouth cancer in non-smokers. Even if you don’t smoke, heavy drinking can be harmful. It is important to note that drinking alcohol and smoking together is even riskier.

3. Diet: A diet low in fruits and vegetables containing protective nutrients may increase the risk of oral cancer in non-smokers. Eating a balanced diet can help reduce the risk.

4. Family History: Some non-smokers may have genes or a family history that makes them more likely to get oral cancer.

5. Constant irritability: If you have a lot of irritation in your mouth, perhaps due to poorly fitting dentures or dental appliances, it can increase the risk of mouth cancer for non-smokers.

6. Environmental Factors: Prolonged sun exposure, without sun protection measures, is a known cause of lip cancer, a type of mouth cancer. use sunscreen

Why is early cancer detection important?

Regular dental checkups are very important as dentists are often the first to recognize any symptoms. Early detection of oral cancer can make treatment more successful.

We all need to be aware of the various factors that can cause mouth cancer and take steps to prevent it. By staying informed and taking action, we can work together to reduce the number of smokers and save lives.

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