Simple Steps Can Reduce Your Risk of Mouth Cancer
Most of the cases of oral cancer can be prevented. Once you get oral cancer, it is often only discovered once it has already reached the advanced stages. This makes it all the more worthwhile to try and prevent it from occurring in the first place. The prevention of oral cancer is especially important if you already have a number of risk factors.
The Oral Cancer Foundation states that almost 50,000 new cases of oral cancer will be discovered this year. In five years, only about half that many will still be alive. This is a higher death rate than for other types of cancer. This type of cancer was also usually only found in people who were 40 or older, but now more young people are developing it.
The way that oral cancers are most frequently discovered is through a doctor or dentist feeling the lymph nodes in the neck and discovering that they are swollen. This means that cancer has already metastasized and is spreading.
The Causes of Oral Cancer
The primary cause of many types of cancer, including oral cancer, is tobacco. This includes smoking and smokeless varieties. E-cig devices are also included, not for the tobacco, but because of the nicotine, which is a tobacco product.
Smokeless tobacco is often sold as being healthier than cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. This may be true in the case of lung cancer, but the rise in mouth cancer cases, and other types of cancer, and periodontal disease, still declares plainly that it is not safe. There is also a possibility that it is linked to heart disease.
Another cause of mouth cancer that is occurring more frequently is HPV. This STD in the mouth and throat is picked up by engaging in oral sex. Although HPV is not the actual cause, it does help to trigger the process that develops the mouth cancer.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
It is possible that some of the oral cancer symptoms may be perceived to be something else. Some of them may even seem unrelated, but the things you want to look for include:
A sore throat
Difficulty chewing or swallowing
Pain the jaw or stiffness
A sore that bleeds or does not heal
Loose teeth or dentures that no longer fit right.
Mouth Cancer Prevention
Your risk of getting oral cancer can be reduced, although not totally eliminated. There is no absolute guarantee, but you can minimize it. You can work toward the prevention of oral cancer by doing several things:
Quit smoking – This is the greatest risk. Those who smoke are most likely to get many types of cancer, including head and neck cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, and more. It also promotes periodontal disease. One in five deaths in the U.S. is caused by smoking.
Reduce the alcohol – Alcohol is classified as a carcinogen. When drinking heavily, it is related to several types of cancer. Moderate drinking will reduce the risk, which is considered to be two drinks average per day for men, and one drink a day average for women.
Eat healthy – Eating more fruits and vegetables, and fiber, along with less red meat, will strengthen your immune system to be able to help fight against cancer.
Lose weight – Being overweight, or obese, helps promote cancer. Establish a regular exercise program, with at least 150 minutes per week, and you can reduce this risk factor.
Spend less time in the sun – The sun's rays can lead to lip cancer if they are exposed to them for long periods. Wear a hat, and reduce your time in the sun.
Genetics – Some families have a gene that may make them more prone to developing oral cancer. While you cannot change the gene, you can be more watchful to try and catch it early.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) – There are many forms of HPV, but one form in particular – HPV16 – is known to lead to the development of cancer. Your risk of an HPV caused oral cancer can be reduced by obtaining an HPV vaccination, and by limiting having oral sex with one person who is not having sex with other people.
When to See a Dentist
Regular dental checkups can often lead to the discovery of oral cancer. The thing to look for is when one or more of the mouth cancer symptoms last more than two weeks. If you see these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist for an oral cancer screening. During the checkup, the dentist will look for other possible causes. If a problem is discovered, a biopsy may need to be taken.
In addition to working on your own program for the prevention of oral cancer, you can get oral cancer screening from Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board-certified periodontist. He has dental offices in the Carrollton, TX and Grapevine, TX areas. To make an appointment, or to learn more about his dental services, call his office today at 214-731-0123