Oral Cancer cases are on the rise and based on a research published in the journal of the National Cancer Institute, patients who are infected with Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are twice as likely to develop Oral cancer in the mouth or the oropharynx. Hepatitis C Virus can be contracted through infected blood, shared needles, drug abuse and there are very low chances of contracting HCV through sexual contact. About 85% of the individuals affected by Hepatitis C will become chronically infected because of the lack of symptoms until the Liver is affected.
The most common symptoms of Hepatitis C are fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle and joint pains, abdominal pain, vomiting, weight loss etc. With this research, it is clear that with HCV virus infection, there are increased chances of Oral Cancer and the patients should be extra cautious to the changes taking place in the oral cavity and throat region.
Hepatitis C patients should be made aware of the changes which need to be addressed immediately by visiting a Doctor and that any neglect might lead to progression to Oral cancer. CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr. Nigel Carter OBE, said, “This research is very important and gives people an opportunity to learn about what risks they face if they have HCV infection, by understanding the increased risks they can make sure they track the associated areas of their health more closely and take action if they need to”. he added, “There are fantastic support networks, information and improved treatments which all play a role in a greater survival rates but this all depends on an early diagnosis. If HCV patients look out for the major signs and symptoms they can dramatically improve their chances of survival. Patients need to be alert to unusual lumps or swellings in the head and neck area, white or red patches in the mouth, and mouth ulcers which do not heal within three weeks. If they notice any of these symptoms, then we should visit their dentist or doctor straight away.”
Hepatitis C infection has been associated with oral problems like tooth decay, gum disease and there are instances of reduced saliva production which indirectly is the cause for the above mentioned oral problems. This makes it important for Dental professionals and medical professionals to inform patients suffering from Hepatitis C Virus infection to be aware of the increased incidence of Oral Cancer due to HCV.