There were 123 diagnosed cases of oral cancer in Fiji from 2011 till August this year.
Dr Monesha Singh, a dental officer trained in Oral Surgery at the CWM Hospital says it is hard to detect oral cancer in its initial stages as there is no pain associated with it.
Dr Singh says by the time patients come in, they usually have a big sore on their tongue and it is in the later stages of oral cancer.
The most common sign of oral cancer is a sore inside your cheek or lip that won't heal.
Dr Inosi Salababa, a Senior Dental Officer practising Oral Surgery at the Lautoka Hospital is encouraging medical officers and dentists to not only focus on teeth but other structures such as the tongue and cheeks as well. He is also advising patients to ask for a thorough dental checkup and not just focus on teeth.
He says it is important to create awareness on what is normal and what is abnormal as far as oral health care is concerned.
Oral cancer is caused by smoking or chewing tobacco, alcohol, areca nuts, a person’s diet and those who have a weak immune system are also more susceptible.
The Fiji Dental Association says early detection of oral cancer lesions will result in less aggressive treatment.
The Association is stressing the importance of awareness on oral cancer.
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