Expert says tobacco, alcohol consumption could cause oral cancer

Oral cancer word cloud

an Associate Professor of Community Dentistry at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Omolara Uti, on Wednesday said that tobacco use and consistent heavy consumption of alcohol could cause oral cancer.

Uti said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

She said that oral cancer, which was otherwise known as mouth cancer, was one of the diseases handled by dentists and had mortality, compared to other mouth-related diseases.

“Oral cancer is problematic in the mouth because many people do not detect it in time, such that by the time the patient presents it, it is usually too late.

“Tobacco use in any form, either by smoking, chewing, sniffing or deeping it in the month, may cause oral cancer; also heavy consumption of alcohol has been known as a cause of oral cancer.

“When the two substances are now combined together, it becomes very dangerous because one will help to potentiate the effort of the other.

“They have a synergistic relationship that can make it cause oral cancer, and we also have the effect of sunlight, especially in Caucasians,’’ Uti said.

The professor said that deficiencies of iron, fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamins A, C, and E, could also lead to the causes of oral cancer.

“Other causes might be genetic disposition and also the Human Paploma Virus, which is found in female genital warts, now found in the mouth due to oral sex, can also cause mouth cancer,’’ she said.

According to her, oral cancer presents itself like a harmless ulcer in the mouth that is non healing, after two weeks, a painless lump, then the teeth becomes suddenly mobile.

“It can also present like a white plague in the mouth, which is known as leukoplakia, so if anyone is experiencing any of these symptoms, there is a need to see a dentist.

“These are signs that it could be cancer of the mouth and there are different modalities for treatment, which could be either chemotherapy drugs or radiation and also surgery.

“The survival rate for oral cancer is 50 per cent, but when early treatment is instituted, survival rate can improve to as high as 80 per cent,’’ she said.

Uti, however, advocated for early presentation of any kind of usual ulcer or changes in the mouth, to enhance early diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer in Nigeria.