Oral cancer is a serious health concern that should not be disregarded. Early detection can result in better treatment outcomes and lower costs for those diagnosed with the disease.
Oral cancer is increased by tobacco and alcohol use, as well as infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). Regular screenings can help detect any precancerous tissue changes that could progress into cancer if left untreated.
1. Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Many people lead busy lives and tend to neglect important dental appointments. Yet these visits are essential in decreasing your risk of oral cancer.
At your regular dental checkups, your dentist will inspect your mouth, neck and lips for signs of oral cancer. They may use a special dye or light to detect any abnormalities.
The dentist checks for sores that don’t heal, white patches, lumps and growths they can feel with their hands or technology. Additionally, they inspect your tongue, jaw and throat for any changes.
Oral cancer is a fatal disease that affects the mouth, tongue, lips and neck. Early detection is the key to combatting this illness – leading to higher survival rates.
Your dentist can detect signs of oral cancer by feeling and inspecting the mouth, tongue, lips, neck area as well as salivary glands, thyroid and lymph nodes.
They will press on your thyroid gland and inspect for any lumps or changes. Furthermore, they may retract your lip and inspect its inner surface for signs of change.
At each six-month visit, your dentist will perform a comprehensive examination of your mouth, lips and tongue. They can detect any abnormal tissue and refer it to an oral cancer specialist for further assessment.
The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests that individuals with high risks for oral and oropharyngeal cancers get screened at least once annually, or more frequently if they exhibit symptoms such as tobacco use or excessive alcohol consumption. They should also get tested if they have a history of HPV infection which has been linked to oral cancers.
2. Avoid Smoking
Smokers have an increased likelihood of developing oral cancer than nonsmokers, as well as pharyngeal cancer — a type of throat cancer which can spread to the lungs.
Smoking may be the leading factor in increasing your oral cancer risk, but other tobacco uses can also have an impact. Chewing tobacco, cigars, smokeless tobacco and betel quid have all been known to increase one’s likelihood of developing oral cancer.
The initial step to quitting smoking and other forms of tobacco use is to completely abstain. Your dentist can assist in this endeavor and offer suggestions on how to accomplish this successfully.
If you’re having difficulty quitting smoking, speak to your doctor about medications that could help. Regular screenings by your physician are another important way to reduce the risk of oral cancer.
Smokers who quit, even for a short time, can see their risk for other health issues decrease significantly. Within a few months of quitting, your coughing and wheezing should improve significantly; there will be less inflammation in your throat and lungs; additionally, your immune system will become stronger as a result.
Other advantages of quitting smoking include increased energy, better sleep and less pain when dealing with coughs or other respiratory issues. Plus, the effects of quitting last a long time – so there’s never too late to begin!
In addition to quitting smoking, it’s essential to break the habit of eating or drinking in places where you used to smoke. For instance, if you typically have a cigarette with breakfast, replace it with something healthier like fruit. Or if driving while smoking is part of your routine, alter it by taking public transportation instead. Altering habits can be difficult but worth the effort in the end.
3. Avoid Drinking Alcohol
Drinking any form of alcohol – beer, wine, spirits and more – increases your risk for mouth cancer. Combining tobacco use with alcohol further increases this vulnerability.
Ethanol, the primary component in alcoholic beverages, can cause cell damage by irritating healthy tissues. This could result in oxidative stress and DNA changes.
Alcohol also suppresses your immune system’s capacity to combat germs and infection. Chronic inflammation has been linked to numerous health issues, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Increased stress can make you more vulnerable to colds, flu and other infections – which could in turn increase the risk of oral cancer. To combat this risk, try increasing your vitamin C intake or eating plenty of vegetables and fruits for stronger immunity.
You can reduce your risk of certain cancers by taking a supplement such as Folate. Studies have indicated that eating foods rich in folate may reduce the likelihood of breast cancer among other things.
For men, cutting back to no more than one or two drinks a day for men and no more than one for women can help reduce your alcohol consumption. Binge drinking, or having four or more drinks in one sitting, increases your risk of cancer so it’s important to stay moderate and limit alcohol intake.
If you’re a frequent drinker, it’s essential to consult your doctor about how best to manage your risk for developing mouth cancer and other related conditions. For instance, abstain from drinking while on hormone therapy for menopause or other drugs which could increase cancer risks.
4. Avoid Excessive Sun Exposure
Excessive exposure to the sun, both indoors and outdoors, can dramatically raise your risk for skin cancer. Furthermore, excessive sunburns in childhood and adolescence significantly raise your likelihood of developing melanoma – the most serious form of this form of cancer.
Everyone is vulnerable to sun damage. Fair-skinned individuals, smokers, and those who spend extended time outside in the sun have an increased chance of developing it. Furthermore, those with a family history of skin cancer are particularly at risk.
The amount of UV radiation from the sun is measured by a number called the UV index, which ranges from zero to 15. While some forms of ultraviolet radiation are beneficial for health and Vitamin D production, others can cause eye problems, cancers and other diseases.
A high index is not considered a safe level of sun exposure and can cause skin, eye and throat damage. To minimize your exposure to the sun – particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m – and stay shaded when possible, it’s best to limit your time outside in direct sunlight.
When going outside, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Make sure to cover up and reapply the sunscreen frequently.
Additionally, it’s best to abstain from smoking and drinking alcohol. Heavy drinkers have an increased likelihood of being diagnosed with oral cancer six times more frequently than non-drinkers.
Finally, getting vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) can reduce your risk of developing cancers of the mouth and throat. HPV exists in over 100 types, but around 40 have been linked with mouth cancers.
Mouth cancer is most common among adults over 45, but anyone is susceptible. To ensure you stay protected against HPV or other types of oral cancer, schedule regular screenings with your dentist and ask them to check the back of your throat, vocal cords, trachea and esophagus for any cancer cells.
5. Take Care of Your Mouth
Maintaining a healthy mouth is one of the best ways to lower your risk for developing cancer. Additionally, it plays an integral role in overall health and well-being; when your teeth are in optimal condition, you may help protect yourself from serious illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.
Regular oral cancer screenings can be invaluable in recognizing potential issues early. These tests can be performed at home or by your dentist, dental hygienist or doctor and they help detect small tumors, red or white patches (leukoplakia) and sores before they become larger.
Oral cancer can be diagnosed in various stages, the most common being squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer typically develops on the most superficial layer of oral mucosa and can take place anywhere in your mouth.
Smoking or drinking excessively can increase the risk of these tumors. Furthermore, those with a family history of cancer, whether it be prostate, lung or other, are at an even higher risk.
Screening for oral cavity cancers and other potentially malignant disorders is an effective way to reduce morbidity and mortality by detecting pre-malignancies at their earliest stage, when they can be removed or treated more effectively. Furthermore, the screening method is non-invasive, painless, and socially acceptable.
Although the exact cause of oral cancer is still unknown, avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol and limiting sun exposure can help to reduce your chances. Furthermore, taking good care of your teeth and gums prevent other health issues like tooth decay or gum disease from occurring. And if any of these problems do arise, visiting your dentist early allows them to identify them early and provide timely treatment.