This blog is in honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month. This month is a time when we focus on educating people about the dangers of oral cancer and how to prevent it. Oral cancer is a type of cancer that affects various structures in the mouth and and throat. In this blog post, we will discuss what oral cancer is, as well as some common symptoms and risk factors of oral cancer. We will also provide five tips for preventing this type of cancer.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is a broad term that includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat). Oral cancer is often first detected by a dentist during a routine checkup. This is why it is important to see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
Early detection of oral cancer is important because it can often be cured if caught in the early stages. However, if oral cancer is not detected early, it can spread to other parts of the body and become more difficult to treat.
Some common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- A sore or irritation that does not go away
- A lump or thickening in the mouth or throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pain when swallowing
- A change in voice
- Ear pain
Risk Factors of Oral Cancer
There are several risk factors that can increase your risk of developing oral cancer, including:
-Tobacco use: This is the most common risk factor for oral cancer. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chew are all forms of tobacco that can increase your risk.
-Alcohol use: Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol also increases your risk of developing oral cancer.
-UV light exposure: Spending time in the sun or using tanning beds can increase your risk of developing lip cancer.
-HPV exposure: Individuals who have had the human papillomavirus (HPV) are more likely to develop oral cancer.
-Age: The risk of developing oral cancer increases with age. Most people are over the age of 55 when diagnosed.
-Gender: Men are two times more likely than women to develop oral cancer.
Preventing Oral Cancer
There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer, including:
This is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk. In fact, stopping the use of any and all tobacco products is highly recommended to decrease the risk of oral cancer.
Limit alcohol consumption:
If you drink alcohol, be sure to limit the amount of drinks you consume weekly. The CDC notes that 8 drinks or more per week for women and 15 or more drinkers per week for men is considered heavy drinking.
Practice safe sun exposure:
Avoid spending too much time in the sun and use sunscreen when you are outdoors. You can also use an SPF lip balm to protect your lips when you are outside.
Visit Your Dentist
Be sure to see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. During your regular checkups, your dentist will perform a basic oral cancer screening where they will look for any early signs of oral cancer. You should be examined at least twice a year.
Eat a healthy diet:
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and limit processed foods. This keeps you more healthy overall and can reduce the risk of cancer.
Oral cancer is a serious disease that can be deadly if not detected early. By following these tips, you can help prevent oral cancer. Remember, if you notice any changes in your mouth or throat, see your dentist right away. Thanks for reading and have a healthy day!
Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry. He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.