Indicating an alarming rise in the incidence of the disease, Indian Dental Association (IDA) reveals that oral cancer kills one person every 6 hours in the country.
According to IDA secretary general, Ashok Dhoble, the situation could even be graver as many cases of the disease go unreported.
Advertisement"Cases of the disease and death resulting from the oral cancer in rural areas and among the poorer section of society are hardly recorded," Dr Dhoble said.
He noted that owning to the high prevalence of smokers and the extensive use of other chewable tobacco products, India has seen a sharp growth in the number of oral cancer patients in the past decade.
According to him, oral cancer accounts for about 40 percent of all cancer-related disease in the country, with the north-eastern states worst affected. "States like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are also affected," he said.
He added that every third person in these states uses tobacco products. Talking about measures to control the prevalence of the disease, he said that nothing short of a complete ban on the use of tobacco would work.
Pointing out that it is the nicotine in the tobacco which makes it addictive and difficult to kick the bad habit, Dr Dhoble said, "our government also understands the problem well. But the huge number of people working with the tobacco industry is the dilemma. The government has to provide them with an alternative source of revenue and then ban tobacco completely."
He noted that a dentist would be the first person to diagnose oral cancer since it is not limited to teeth; it can affect the mouth, tongue, pharynx and gums too. Once it enters into the second stage, the life span of the patient reduces to just five years.
"I advise people to consult a dentist and not to ignore even if there is a slight issue in the mouth. But above all they have to quit using tobacco in every form. That's the natural medicine," he noted.