World Cancer Day - 4th February 2021

#IamandIwill, the 2021 World Cancer Day Slogan, is an enduring reminder about humanity's fight against the scourge that is cancer. It's no secret that cancer is a devastating problem around the world. Claiming the lives of almost ten million people each year, more than HIV/AIDs, malaria and tuberculosis combined, it is estimated that by 2030 this number will have surpassed the 13million mark and causing untold emotional and physical pain to many more. Oral cancers are among the top 10 most prevalent cancers, affecting more middle aged men than women. Tobacco and alcohol are the biggest known predisposing factors with their combined use increasing the chances of having the disease. As doctors we may not have a quick fix but there are things we can do to help create a more positive future. The biggest weapon at our disposal is health education to our patients and fellow countrymen.

One of the biggest barriers we have for combatting cancer is awareness and education. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest and most effective ways that we have reduce cancer rates and improve survival.

Sharing knowledge of risk factors and the early signs of cancer is vital. Stopping cancer from happening in the first place is preferable but catching cases early could also be life-saving.

Mouth cancer is a key example of this. Despite the consistent rise in the number of people diagnosed, less than one in ten of us are confident in our knowledge of the disease. Key information about the causes of mouth cancer and how to spot the disease early can put a halt to the rising numbers, but simply not enough of us are armed with the knowledge.

This is where you can help.

We urge you to help us communicate life-saving information about mouth cancer, a terrible disease that, for thousands of people, restricts their ability to speak. Let’s come together and be their voice.

Each and every one of us can play an active role in transforming the landscape of cancer across the country.

Preventing mouth cancer

  • Tobacco and excess alcohol consumption are two of the biggest risk factors of mouth cancer. To lower your risk, quit alcohol and smoking or use of smokeless tobacco
  • The human papillomavirus (HPV) is predicted to become the leading cause of mouth cancer in the coming years. It is transmitted through oral sex. Limit your number of partners and practising safe sex, you can help lower your risk of mouth cancer.
  • Sun exposure can increase your risk of developing mouth cancer. Wear a hat or cap when out for extended periods, use a good protective sun screen and put the correct type of barrier cream on your lips
  • A good diet, rich in vitamins A, C and E provides protection against the development of mouth cancer.

Catching mouth cancer early

What should you look out for?

Given the time we spend in front of the bathroom mirror brushing our teeth, this one should be easy

  • Mouth ulcers which do not heal in two weeks.
  • Red and white patches in the mouth-tongue and cheek areas in the mouth
  • Unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth or head and neck area.
  • Accompanied with unexplained loss of weight.

If you notice any of these warning signs, contact your dentist or doctor immediately.

Keep your recommended dental reviews of twice a year religiously, this will help with early detection and better surveillance more so if you have been a smoker or take alcohol regularly.

We recommend oral cancer screening by qualified dentist and when in doubt reach out to us for more information. Find a qualified dentist near you or any public hospital your check up and together we can fight cancer by practicing simple preventive measures.

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