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Oral cancer cases higher in developing countries

Bapun Raz

Staff member
3 Nov 2010
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Dubai: Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer reported globally with roughly two thirds of these reported in developing countries, according to a report.

Regardless of nationality, roughly half of long-term smokers will die from the effects of tobacco smoking, be it oral cancer, lung cancer or cardiovascular disease.

In India 20 deaths per 100,000 are caused by oral cancer as compared to 10 deaths per 100,000 in the US and two deaths per 100,000 in the Middle East.

Oral cancer, as well as updates in maxillofacial reconstruction, microneurosurgery, oral trauma, and facial cosmetic and orthognathic surgery, will be reviewed at the 2nd Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Congress to be held in Dubai from May 1-5.

Organised by Imedex in association with Arab Health, this year's meeting will provide a number of new features that explore the rapidly reshaping field of oral and facial surgery.

"The main causes of oral cancer have classically been related to smoking tobacco products and the Middle East has a higher rate of tobacco consumption then many other countries and this includes the use of the Shisha or Hookah," said Dr Eric J Dierks, Clinical Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Oregon Health and Science University, USA and director of the Fellowship in Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery based at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Oregon, who will be speaking at the congress.

"There is a myth that smoking through a Shisha pipe is safer than smoking cigarettes but this is almost certainly not the case. Several recent studies have indicated that Shisha smokers actually inhale more of the cooled smoke than would a cigarette smoker thereby increasing their exposure to carcinogens within the smoke," he said.

To an ever greater extent, human papilloma virus (HPV) is a causative factor in cancer of sites in the oropharynx such as the tonsil or the base of the tongue, although HPV related cancer is much less common within the mouth itself.

Approximately two thirds of cancers of the base of tongue and tonsil are caused by HPV and 80 per cent of these cases occur in men.

"There is no relationship between either smoking or alcohol intake with the HPV associated oropharyngeal cancer. Fortunately, HPV associated oropharyngeal cancer actually carries a much better prognosis than does a cancer in this location that is not associated with HPV. Although research is ongoing, the reason for this is as yet unclear," Dierks said.

The early diagnosis of oral cancer is extremely important because not only is the prognosis significantly better for early stage cancer, but the treatment involved is often less extensive, Dr Dierks said.

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