18 | ENE | 2019

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Patient being screened for oral cancer – Photo: Alejandra Leyva/EL UNIVERSAL

Oral cancer, not easy to diagnose

Perla Miranda
Mexico City
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According to a doctor of Mexico's National Institute of Cancer, oral cancer is sometimes confused with oral thrush and similar oral infections

Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer, can easily be confused with an oral thrush and other infections, considering some of the symptoms include lip sores, bleeding gums, thickening of the inside of the cheeks, mouth numbness, pain, mandible swelling, and troubles chewing, according to Blanca Irieta, a specialist in the Head and Neck Tumors Department of Mexico's National Institute of Cancer (INCAN).

The specialist said oral cancer in Mexico is more prevailing in men over 40 and that 40% of cases are caused by smoking. Nevertheless, there are other risk factors such as alcohol consumption, viral infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV).

Dr. Irieta explained that odontologists should be trained to distinguish between an infectious process and cancer lesions in the mouth, given that in this type of cancer, cancer cells spread quicker because mouth tissues are thinner.

The treatment for his disease varies between chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery, depending on the case.

The institute receives 6,000 patients per year, out of which 100 are diagnosed with oral cancer.

There is a seven-step self-examination process helpful in detecting oral cancer in its early stages:

1. Wash your hands thoroughly and step in front of a mirror.
2. Check out and feel your lips on the inside and outside.
3. Take a closer look at your teeth and gums, touching them is also recommended.
4. Look and touch at the inside of your cheeks.
5. Scan all the sides of your tongue, including lateral cavities, and touch for bumps or lumps.
6. Inspect the underside of your tongue.
7. Examine your palate and check for lumps or any abnormal discoloration.

If you find something abnormal, don't hesitate to contact a medical professional.



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