Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital

Patient Helpline 186-0208-0208

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Avoid risk factors

Not all cases of oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer can be prevented, but the risk of developing these cancers can be greatly reduced by avoiding certain risk factors.


Eighty-five percent of head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco use. People who use both tobacco and alcohol are at greater risk for developing these cancers than people who use either tobacco or alcohol alone.

Other risk factors for cancers of the head and neck include the following:

  • Sun exposure (lip); poor oral hygiene, possibly human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. There are certain stages before development of frank cancer which present as White patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth which do not get rubbed off or Red patches (Erythroplakia).
  • Radiation to the head and neck. This exposure can come from diagnostic x-rays or from radiation therapy for noncancerous conditions or cancer.
  • Certain industrial exposures, such as wood or nickel dust inhalation. Tobacco and alcohol use may play less of a role in this type of cancer.
  • Exposure to wood dust; and consumption of certain preservatives or salted foods.
  • Poor oral hygiene; HPV infection and the use of mouthwash that has high alcohol content are possible, but not proven, risk factors.
  • Plummer-Vinson (also called Paterson-Kelly) syndrome, a rare disorder that results from iron and other nutritional deficiencies. This syndrome is characterized by severe anemia and leads to difficulty swallowing due to webs of tissue that grow across the upper part of the esophagus.
  • Exposure to airborne particles of asbestos, especially in the workplace.

More than 5 million children in India are addicted to gutkha, a smokeless tobacco product that is a key driver behind the country′s soaring oral cancer rates. People who are at risk for head and neck cancers should come to us for check ups and learn to reduce their risk. They should also discuss how often to have checkups.


The earlier cancer is detected the better are the chances of cure and complete recovery. It is important to realize that many cancers today are curable.

Monthly self examination by each and every one of us will go a long way in detecting cancer at the early stage. One can stand in front of large mirror and look for the following : -

  • Mouth : Change in colour of gums, lips and cheeks, White, Brown or red patches, ulcer, sore or scab, thickening in any part of the oral cavity.
  • Neck : Look for any lump, swelling or any other abnormality.

If you find anything abnormal, record it on a notebook and report it to your doctor. In case everything is normal, RELAX!


For Head and Neck Cancer Dental and ENT Check up is must for both the sexes. In case of suspicion, one should go for Endoscopy, biopsy, X-Ray, CT – Scan, MRI, PET CT

This is most important for all of us because it is through these annual check ups that we can find out about the status of our health.


  • Avoid active and passive smoking.
  • Avoid Tobacco and Tobacco Products like Gutkha, Paan, Khaini, Surti, Beedi, Cigarette
  • Avoid Alcohol
  • Maintain Good oral and dental hygiene

All smokers and tobacco chewers need several counselling sessions to leave the habit and ensure they do not start taking tobacco, after quitting it.

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