Mouth cancer common among young people

Mouth cancer is now common among young people due to the current change in lifestyles, compared to the past.

More young people are diagnosed with early signs of mouth cancer. This was revealed by the Papua New Guinea Cancer Foundation dental therapist Paulias Miroi.

Miroi is part of the PNGCF team that goes out to the provinces to screen patients, as part of the cancer screening and awareness program.

His dental team identifies early signs of mouth cancer during oral screening.

They look for symptoms for mouth cancer like white patches anywhere in the mouth (leukoplakia), red patches anywhere in your mouth (erythroplakia) and a lump on the lip, tongue or in the mouth or throat.

Other signs are unusual bleeding or numbness in the mouth, pain when chewing or swallowing and a feeling that something is caught in the throat.

“When we see these symptoms, we identify them as pre-cancerous then we refer them for further investigations and managements from specialists at the hospitals,” Miroi said.

He revealed that since last year, there was an alarmingly high percentage of young people who had pre-cancerous symptoms.

Miroi said: “We found that in Alotau, young men between the ages of 20-30 years old had precancerous lesions.

“Usually, early cancer victims are commonly at the age of 35 to 40 years old.

“Young people are into homebrew and are heavy betelnut chewers and smokers and these are the determining factors for mouth cancer.”

From statistics gathered from the surveys in Lae in February, 78 out of 428 people who were screened for mouth cancer were referred for further check-up.

PNGCF confirmed that 490 people were screened for breast and mouth cancer at Kimbe in July and 130 of them were referred for further check-up.

Miroi said you can also reduce your cancer risk by eating healthy and exercising regularly.

Quintina Naime