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Oral Oncol. 2009 Apr-May;45(4-5):454-60. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2008.05.023. Epub 2008 Sep 18.

Oral cancer prevention and control--the approach of the World Health Organization.

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Global Oral Health Programme, World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia, CH1211 Geneva-27, Switzerland.


Cancer is one of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality today. It is estimated that around 43% of cancer deaths are due to tobacco use, unhealthy diets, alcohol consumption, inactive lifestyles and infection. Low-income and disadvantaged groups are generally more exposed to avoidable risk factors such as environmental carcinogens, alcohol, infectious agents, and tobacco use. These groups also have less access to the health services and health education that would empower them to make decisions to protect and improve their own health. Oro-pharyngeal cancer is significant component of the global burden of cancer. Tobacco and alcohol are regarded as the major risk factors for oral cancer. The population-attributable risks of smoking and alcohol consumption have been estimated to 80% for males, 61% for females, and 74% overall. The evidence that smokeless tobacco causes oral cancer was confirmed recently by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Studies have shown that heavy intake of alcoholic beverages is associated with nutrient deficiency, which appears to contribute independently to oral carcinogenesis. Oral cancer is preventable through risk factors intervention. Prevention of HIV infection will also reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS-related cancers such as Kaposi sarcoma and lymphoma. The WHO Global Oral Health Programme is committed to work for country capacity building in oral cancer prevention, inter-country exchange of information and experiences from integrated approaches in prevention and health promotion, and the development of global surveillance systems for oral cancer and risk factors. The WHO Global Oral Health Programme has established a global surveillance system of oral cavity cancer in order to assess risk factors and to help the planning of effective national intervention programmes. Epidemiological data on oral cancer (ICD-10: C00-C08) incidence and mortality are stored in the Global Oral Health Data Bank. In 2007, the World Health Assembly (WHA) passed a resolution on oral health for the first time in 25 years, which also considers oral cancer prevention. The resolution WHA60 A16 URGES Member states--To take steps to ensure that prevention of oral cancer is an integral part of national cancer-control programmes, and to involve oral-health professionals or primary health care personnel with relevant training in oral health in detection, early diagnosis and treatment;--The WHO Global Oral Health Programme will use this statement as the lead for its work for oral cancer control

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