Oral cancer kills over 700 Nigerians yearly, FG reveals

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The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, revealed that 746 Nigerians die annually as a result of oral cancer complications.

Meanwhile, 1146 oral cancer cases are diagnosed in Nigeria annually.

The ministry stated this during a keynote address at a one day oral cancer training with the theme: ‘The use of artificial intelligence in the early detection of oral cancer and oral potentially malignant disorders’.

“Oral cancer is very critical to us because it can easily deface ones face, you will not be able to talk, you cant eat, the mortality rate is very high. It is even higher than the rest of the cancers,” the Minister said.

Represented by the Head of Dentistry Division, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Gloria Uzo-Igwe, the Minister however, disclosed that his ministry is intensifying awareness campaign to enlighten Nigerians about the dangers of oral cancer.

In her presentation, the Prof Bukola Folashade Adeyemi of the University College Ibadan, disclosed that even though oral cancer is not too prevalent in Nigeria, she, however, said that its impact is devastating.

“Over 1000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed every year and over 700 of that number die. That is means that over 50 per cent of people that are diagnosed die of oral cancer every year. That is enormous because these are people that are very important to some people.”

While calling for regular dental checks, she said: “We encourage early diagnosis. This is because if a disease affects a single person in the population, the individual and the close friends are at a loss.

“We talk about early diagnosis, we talk about avoidance of established risk factors. “

On the risk factors that causes oral cancer, the Dentistry Professor said: “The most important risks factors are tobacco and alcohol. They alter the way the human body use to handle reactive oxygen species. Individual that avoid these things give themselves a reduced risk of having oral cancer.

She explained further: “Another very important thing in our society is the excessive use of foods that are prepared over naked flames, they are dangerous, especially in individuals that are constantly being exposed to them.

“They include suya, roasted fish, and all those roasted things that are done over naked fire. They contain what we call established carsinogenes.

“So, we are not saying that we should not eat them, but things should be done in moderation. Moderation should be established in most of the things that we do.

“Other risks factors for oral cancer is continuous infection. We advise people to visit a dentist at least twice a year and when you cant make it twice, at least visit your dentist once in a year.”