While examining the inside of the mouth is already a typical part of a regular dental check-up, for many people it is also worth scheduling an appointment for an oral cancer screening. The American Cancer Society predicts that more than 53,000 people will be diagnosed with oropharyngeal or oral cavity cancer in 2020, and together…
Preventing Oral Cancer
Oral cancer may appear as a sore or growth in the mouth that does not go away. Oral cancer includes cancers of the tongue, lips, cheeks, hard and soft palate, the floor of the mouth, sinuses and throat. Knowing the risk factors for oral cancer can be immensely beneficial. Changing or avoiding certain habits can decrease your chances of developing oral cancer. Read on to find out what you can do to prevent or reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.
How to prevent oral cancer
Men are known to face twice the risk of developing oral cancer compared to women. Men who are over 50 years old face the greatest risk. It is estimated that about 50,000 people receive a diagnosis of oral cancer in the U.S. every year. A number of factors increase people’s chances of developing oral cancers. Here are some common factors.
Risk factors for oral cancer
Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco and snuff, increases the risk of developing oral cancer. Cigarette, cigar and pipe smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancers. Using snuff, dip or chewing tobacco products increases people’s risk of developing cancers of the gums, cheek and lining of the lips. Oral cancers are more common in drinkers than in nondrinkers.
People who smoke and excessive alcohol drinkers who are older than 50 are most at risk. But it is important to know that a large percentage of oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke but only occasionally drink alcohol. Other risk factors include excessive sun exposure, particularly at a young age and a family history of cancer. Oral cancer is also associated with infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
To prevent oral cancer, a person should stop using tobacco. An individual who does not use tobacco, should not start. Using tobacco whether chewed or smoked, is highly discouraged. If a person has to drink, the individual should drink in moderation. Refraining from binge drinking will also be beneficial.
People should limit their exposure to the sun. Repeated exposure can increase the risk of developing cancer on the lip, particularly the lower lip. A person can protect the skin on the lips from the sun by opting to stay in the shade when possible. When in the sun, individuals should use UV-A/B-blocking sun protective lotions on both the skin and lips. Eating a well-balanced diet will also help.
There are several things you can do to reduce your chances of developing oral cancer. These include not smoking or using any tobacco products, drinking alcohol in moderation and limiting your exposure to the sun. Eating a well-balanced diet is also always recommended. It is also important to ensure that you see your dentist on a regular basis.
This can help you to detect oral cancer early, should it occur. During your next appointment, you should ask your dentist to perform an oral exam. Detecting oral cancer early can increase the chance of successful treatment. If you want to find out more about how to prevent oral cancer, talk to your dentist.
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