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Betel Quid Prevention Day on December 3 No Betel Quid Regular Oral Cancer Screening

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  • Modify Date:Modify Date:2023/01/11
  • Publish Date:Publish Date:2022/12/02

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has been classified areca nut (AN) and betel quid (BQ) (with or without slaked lime) as a Group 1 carcinogen. Chewing betel nuts are associated with oral cancer. Oral cancer is the most common cancer among young adult male in Taiwan, moreover, it ranked the fourth in male cancer incidence and death rate. More than 8,000 persons annually were diagnosed as oral cancer, among which 90% were male (2019 Taiwan Cancer Registry Report, HPA). About 3,000 deaths from oral cancer each year (2021 Cause of Death Statistics, MOHW). A research found oral cancer patients with BQ chewing had 28 times cancer risk than people with no BQ chewing. If patients used tobacco, alcohol, and BQ further increased oral cancer risks by 123 times.  

The 2021 Taiwan Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) conducted by HPA shown adolescents’ BQ chewing rate decreased in 2021 compared with year 2017. The junior high school students’ BQ chewing rate was 0.4%, a 0.43% reduction; senior high school students’ BQ chewing rate was 1.66%, a 0.48% reduction. Furthermore, almost 58% junior high school and 47% senior high school students knew that chewing BQ itself can cause cancer. The Ministry of Education (MOE) has included the prevention and control of betel quid hazards issue and resistance skills in the general guidelines of curricula. The HPA works with MOE and various departments to campaign the prevention and control BQ hazards through multiple channels of communication to establish supportive betel-quid-free environments on campus, communities and workplaces.    

December 3rd is the “Betel Quid Prevention Day.” The HPA Director General Chao-Chun Wu reiterates that AN and BQ are carcinogenic to human. Do not try or chew them. Please stop to chew BQ. We provided oral cancer screening services to all smokers and BQ chewers over 30 years of age and offered betel nut cessation class. Regular oral visual inspection (OVI) could early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of oral cancer. 

OVI only take three minutes reduces death risks

Evidence shown that smokers and BQ chewers do not take regular OVI increased 35% death risk. Among screeners with oral lesions, more than 75% of lesions are precancerous lesions and early-stage cancer; with smoking and BQ chewing cessation and continued treatment and follow-ups, this could lower chance of precancerous lesions to become oral cancers. Regular oral cancer screening could lower 26% mortality, with over 80% survival rate. It should be caution that even cessation of use tobacco and BQ products would still have chance to find mouth lesions. We strongly suggested to uptake regular screening.  

Oral cancer is the most easily spotted cancer. With your mouth open wide, you can see the symptoms. The HPA subsidizes oral cancer screening program biennial for people over 30 years old (aborigines aged 18) with BQ chewing (or quitted chewing) and smoking habits. The HPA said that OVI is easy and only takes 3 minutes. Doctors will see and touch your mouth to check for precancerous lesions or cancer. Qualified residents can take their NHI cards to see a doctor in nearby contracted dentistry and ENT clinics.

Mouth Self Examination to detect suspicious symptoms and seek medical advice if necessary

The HPA reminds that when we wear facial masks to prevent Covid-19, it is easy for us to neglect our oral and facial change. We can check our mouth every day when we brush our teeth. If any of the following symptoms are spotted, we should seek immediate medical help. For example, if the same oral ulcer did not heal for more than two weeks, you should go to see the doctor and take biopsy when necessary for early diagnosis and treatment to lower the incidence and death rate of oral cancer. Symptoms to look out for:

(1) Ulcers: oral ulcers that do not heal for more than two weeks

(2) Patches: unexpected red or white patches on the lining of your mouth

(3) Hard mucosa: hard and tight mouth mucosa leading inability to open the mouth

(4) Lumps: irregular lumps on mouth mucosa (papillae or verrucae)

(5) Swelling: swelling in the faces or necks cause asymmetry