A professor of Oral Pathology at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Professor Bamidele Kolude, says that mouth cancers are preventable and stemming it requires putting in place regular oral screening processes, accurate early diagnosis with appropriate equipment and manpower, and the inclusion of molecular targeted therapies for a better treatment outcome for mouth cancers.
Professor Kolude, in an inaugural lecture entitled ‘The Trial and Tribulations of Orofacial Cancers: Will Molecular Targeted Therapy Triumph?’ at the University of Ibadan, said there is no known cause for oral cancers although some of its identified risk factors include tobacco, alcohol consumption, nutritional deficiencies and increased consumption of western diet.
According to him, the overall global goal of cancer prevention and control is to reduce the incidence and mortality of cancer and to improve the quality of life of cancer patients and their families.
“Low-income and disadvantaged groups are more exposed to avoidable risk factors of mouth cancers. Although the existing body of knowledge about cancer prevention, treatment and palliative care is extensive, much still needs to be known in many aspects notably in its causes and prevention,” he said.
He identified factors such as environmental carcinogens, alcohol, infectious agents and tobacco use as avoidable risks affecting low-income and disadvantaged groups.
“These groups also have less access to the health services and health education that would empower them to make decisions to protect and improve their health.
“National cancer control programmes will help policymakers and managers to make the most effective use of available meager resources to the whole population by taking a balanced approach to evidence-based intervention.
“Prevention is often the most long-term strategy for cancer control. Furthermore, cancer preventive measures also contribute to the prevention of other chronic diseases that share the same risk factor,” Professor Kolude said.
Kolude called for health education and motivation of the masses through mass media about the risk factors, early signs and symptoms as well as available care for oral cancer.
The don recommended daily self-examination for lump or colour change in the mouth and to go for a checkup at the dental clinic for noticeable change, as well as visit to the dentist every six months to have a professional checkup.
He said Nigeria also needs a downward review of the cost of investigations and treatment of precancerous and cancerous lesions in our health facilities and the inclusion of all cancer care under the present National Health Insurance Scheme.