Oral cancer a risk factor for spreading COVID-19: Physician

28 July 2020 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Sandun A. Jayasekera   

Risk factors for oral cancer have an indirect impact on spreading COVID-19, a seminar was told yesterday.   
Touching the mouth with the hand and spitting habits are intermingled with smoking and betel chewing. Moreover, interchanging cigarettes and ingredients in the betel quid will enhance the spread of COVID-19 infection, a senior community physician said.   


However, to recover fully from Oral cancer, it has to be detected early and treat promptly because Oral cancer is the second most common type of cancer among Sri Lankans.   


Consultant Community Physician, Dr. Janaki Vidanapathirana addressing a seminar conducted for media personnel at the Health Education Bureau on oral cancer to mark the ‘World Head and Neck Cancer Day’ said oral cancer was the commonest cancer among Sri Lankan males.   


“Oral cancer is included among the ten most common cancers among females. Everyday six new patients are identified with oral cancer. Oral cancer accounts for two to three deaths per day with the second highest mortality ratio among cancer deaths reported among males,” she said.   


Currently 70% of the oral cancers are reported at a late stage which limits the possibility of getting a good outcome for the patient. Due to the long-term treatment for oral cancers, restriction of day-to-day activities, reduction of facial aesthetics and quality of life, as well as mental and economic hardships would occur for patient and his/her family. The main risk factors of oral cancer are using betel quid, tobacco and areca nut related products, smoking and alcohol,” Dr. Vidanapathirana stressed.   


In Sri Lanka 45.7% of males and 5.3% of females use some type of a tobacco product. According to survey conducted in 2015, 34.8% of males and 0.5% of females use alcohol. Estate workers, drivers, fishermen, mine-workers, construction workers, security guards and farmers have pronounced indulgence in risk factors causing oral cancer. Moreover, the prevalence of Oral Potentially Malignant Disorders (OPMD) and oral cancer are higher among them.   


Due to the harmful effects of smoking on lungs, heart and other organs of the body there is more chance of getting complications due to covid-19 infection.   


Most of the time precancerous conditions or lesions occur in the mouth prior to getting an oral cancer.   
Pre-cancers and cancers at the initial stage, could be identified through a self-mouth examination or a professional clinical oral examination.   


If risk habits are present: once a month self-mouth examination and once in six months clinical oral examination is recommended.   

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