World Cancer Day: Can Oral Cancer Affect Non-Smokers? Causal Factors, Protective Measures And Early Detection


Oral cancer, a silent enemy, manifests in the oral cavity, affecting areas like the lips, tongue, and throat. Its insidious nature lies in the often unnoticed early symptoms, ranging from persistent mouth sores to difficulty in swallowing. In Delhi, where lifestyle factors play a significant role, awareness becomes paramount. It’s crucial to highlight preventive measures like regular dental check-ups and the cessation of tobacco use.

In an interaction with Zee News English, Dr Ashish Gupta USA trained, American board-certified medical oncologist, Chief of Medical Oncology, Unique Hospital Cancer Centre, Dwarka India shares how oral cancer affects non-smokers as well and all about preventive care.

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

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

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

3. Diet: A diet low in fruits and vegetables, which have protective nutrients, can increase the risk of mouth cancer in non-smokers. Eating a balanced diet can help lower the risk.

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

5. Constant Irritation: If your mouth is irritated a lot, perhaps from 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 Early Cancer Detection Matters?

Regular dental check-ups are vital because dentists are often the first to spot any signs. Finding mouth cancer early can make treatment more successful.

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



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