The reduction in the average age of people affected by oral cancer in the last 20 years has caused concern in the scientific community, as in the past the disease usually appeared in people over 40-year old, according to George Laskaris, Professor of Stomatology, University of Athens and Visiting Professor of London University.
Laskaris was speaking at a conference of the Public Health Institute of the American College of Greece on “Diseases of Oral Cavity: What you need to know.”
As he explained “early diagnosis of oral cancer is the key to rapid successful treatment – prognosis – quality of life and survival of more than 90-95 pct.”
According to scientists, cancer is the most dangerous of the 1,000 diseases that occur in the mouth. The key factors for the increase of oral cancer worldwide, including Greece, are smoking, alcohol, and possibly HPV viruses.
“Everyone should be aware and be able to recognize any changes made to his mouth and promptly seeking the opinion of a stomatologist,” said Laskaris. The oral cancer is one of the 10 most common cancers in humans and 700 new cases are recorded every year in Greece.
Smoking, excessive alcohol use, damaged teeth or dentures that injure poor oral hygiene may be the reasons for the high incidence of mouth diseases.
Oral cancer occurs 6-8 times more often in smokers compared to people who never smoked. The increased rate is also related to the number of cigarettes and years someone smokes.
The main symptoms are: pain, bleeding, burning tongue, white or red colour, black spots, wound that does not close, difficulty in chewing and swallowing, swelling of the gums, swelling in the neck lymph nodes, stiffness, bad breath, dry mouth, etc.
For precaution scientists suggest good oral hygiene, avoidance or quitting of smoking, no excessive alcohol consumption, a visit to the dentist every six months, and stomatology advice when there are changes in the mouth.
Laskaris also stressed the importance of accurate and rapid diagnosis, which is a prerequisite for correct treatment and prognosis, protection of the patient from health adventures and unnecessary financial and emotional burden.
“The oral health is a valuable asset that we must and can preserve,” said Laskaris and concluded: “This is because the mouth is the jewel of the human body, and relates to the most beautiful pleasures of life: the taste, the various expressions of love, love, speech and social presence.”