BACKGROUND: Oral cancer is one of the most common life-threatening diseases all over the world. Developing countries face several challenges to identify and remove potential risk factors. Chewing tobacco/pan masala is considered to be the most potent risk factor for oral precancerous lesions and oral cancer. OBJECTIVES: To investigate the relative occurrence of different oral pre-cancerous lesions and oral cancer in North India and to identify the associated risk factors. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A hospital-based study was conducted and 471 subjects were recruited in the study. The subjects comprised patients with squamous cell carcinoma (n = 85), oral submucous fibrosis (n = 240), leukoplakia (n = 32), lichen planus (n = 15), and controls (n = 99). Statistical analysis of the data was done using Chi-square and regression analysis. RESULTS: A strong correlation was observed between the presence of the chewing habit in all the oral precancerous lesions and oral cancer. Duration of the habit and intensity of habit ware also strongly correlated with the risk of oral precancerous lesions and oral cancer. Other factors such as alcohol and smoking were found to be less important in concern with oral cancer and precancerous lesions.
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