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KU oral cancer awareness lecture stresses early detection

Sat. 1 June 2024

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KARACHI: Ranked among the top three countries for oral cancer prevalence, Pakistan faces a major health issue largely due to the extensive use of smokeless tobacco products like paan, gutkha, chaalia, naswar, mawa, and tobacco cigarettes, with delays in treatment often leading to advanced stages of the disease.

These views were expressed by Prof. Dr. Shahjahan Katpar, a Maxillofacial Surgeon and former Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at Dow University of Health Sciences, who emphasized the importance of early detection and screening in the fight against oral cancer during a public awareness lecture on "Oral Cancer and Dental Health."

The event was recently held at the L.E.J. National Science Information Center at the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi.

The lecture, jointly organized by the Dr. Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD) and the Sindh Innovation Research, and Education Network (SIREN), focused on raising awareness about the prevalence and risks of oral cancer.

Prof. Dr. Katpar highlighted the critical need for early detection and regular screenings, noting that oral cancer can manifest in various parts of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums, and cheeks. He explained that screening typically begins with a clinical examination of the mouth and throat.

"The global prevalence of oral cancer is alarming, with over 377,700 cases reported in 2020. The widespread use of smokeless tobacco products is exacerbating the issue in Pakistan, placing the country among the top three worldwide for oral cancer prevalence," Dr. Katpar stated. He called for the establishment of dedicated oral cancer hospitals to address the growing health crisis.

Discussing oral submucous fibrosis (OSF), Dr. Katpar described it as a potentially malignant disorder that causes significant rigidity and, eventually, an inability to open the mouth. OSF can affect any part of the oral cavity.

He outlined several major symptoms of oral cancer, including lumps in the neck, loose teeth, persistent sores on the lips, difficulty or pain while swallowing, speech changes, bleeding or numbness in the mouth, white or red patches in the oral cavity, and unexplained weight loss.

Dr. Katpar advised individuals experiencing any of these symptoms not to panic but to seek consultation with an oral surgeon promptly. "Early diagnosis can significantly improve the prognosis," he concluded.

 

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