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Oral cancer attributable to betel chewing with tobacco leaves and areca nuts – Dr. Prasanna Jayasekera

In Sri Lanka of the cancers prevalent among males, a quarter is oral cancer which is attributable to betel chewing with tobacco leaves and areca nuts, says Dr. Prasanna Jayasekera, Consultant in Community Dentistry of the National Cancer Control Program.

According to Dr. Jayasekera, while there are 28 carcinogens in tobacco leaves, areca nuts contain 4 cancer causing toxics.

Thus the users eventually become cancer victims. Dr. Jayasekera sends across a special message to the public, ” Avoid using these toxic substances which are addictive. If there are changes noticed in the mouth such as red patches, white patches or red and white mixed patches, go to the nearest MOH office or to the dental clinic for a checkup.”

As regards preventive methods, he said there are special programs for school children. The authority is alert and advises school authorities to be vigilant on tobacco associated product selling centres near schools.

Dr. Jayasekera, specially requests school teachers to be vigilant on school children, if noticed children’s behavior change and got to know that they purchase or use such products. Teachers should take immediate action and inform the Public Health Inspectors about such selling centres.

Oral cancer which is very dangerous puts a victim into a very pathetic situation. When a person suffers from oral cancer the entire area has to be removed in the mouth. Fifty percent of victims succumb death within 5 years. In a year 2422 oral cancer new patients are discovered in Sri Lanka and at least 3-4 patients die in a day, though this situation is preventable, if one avoids using tobacco leaves and area nuts.

When taking into consideration the situation during the past 5 years, there is a 40 percent increase in oral cancers. It is more prevalent among old people. The reason is that they have got exposed to risk factors for a long period.

The National Cancer Control Program (NCCP) is engaged in ensuring primary prevention of cancers by addressing risk factors and determinants by improved public awareness and empowerment.

The NCCP is the national focal point for prevention and control of cancers in the country and is responsible for policy, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation of prevention and control of cancers.

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