By: Awo Ntriwaa Yeboah, Accra
A Senior medical officer at the department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr. Paa Kwesi Blankson, has cautioned Ghanaians about the risk involved in the practice of oral sex.
According to him, engagement in oral sex increases the risk for oral cancer, which is increasing in incidence from clinical observations.
Oropharyngeal cancers, he indicated, is gradually becoming a public health concern as it is currently ranked the 6th to 8th commonest cancers worldwide
He explained that, the location of the mouth is intimately linked to vital organs in the body and this makes the progression and advanced states of oral cancer complicated and more challenging to deal with.
He added that, the mouth is a conduit to the rest of the body and this makes oral cancer very fearful.
Describing the development of oral cancer, he explained that “Often times it may present as a sore in the mouth, common places are underneath the tongue, the cells then undergo a certain change and get to the extent which cannot be controlled, invade nearby organs and tissue and when not controlled, eventually spread to distant organs”.
Dr Blankson further explained that among other things such as smoking and alcohol, the Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) is a known risk for the occurrence of oropharyngeal cancers, which seems to increase in contact with oral sex.
“When a HPV is contracted as a result of oral sex, the virus seems to initiate the damage which could later result in oral cancer” he added.
He advised that it is important to visit the hospital to see a doctor if you have an ulcer or sore in the mouth which has persisted for two weeks since it could rarely be a sinister symptom of oral cancer.
The surgeon warned that habits like excessive intake of alcohol and smoking must be stopped since these practices are associative factors of mouth cancer.
He recommended healthy balanced diet, frequent intake of fruits and vegetables as well as regular exercise for the prevention of cancers, including oral cancer.