You may think that people who smoke or drink excessively are the only people at risk for oral cancers. However, even though these factors are common for developing these types of cancer, at least 25% of people diagnosed with oral cancer have never smoked, and they do not indulge heavily in alcoholic beverages. These were the findings of studies at Columbia University Medical Center.
You have control over some factors, such as smoking or heavy drinking, and there are others that you have no control over. For example, oral and oropharyngeal cancers can result from certain foods you eat, sexual activity, exposure to the sun and other factors. These cancers can affect your tongue, salivary glands, gums, lips, and soft palate.
Cancer symptoms can manifest as difficulty swallowing, changes in the way you speak or a cold that does not go away. Other symptoms include a lump in the neck or soft tissue or a sore throat that does not seem to heal. Early diagnosis and treatment are important and knowing your risks can help you prevent this problem. For example, regular dental checkups with an oral cancer screening can help recognize early signs of cancer. In addition, any lumps, swellings or sores in the mouth could be a sign of oral cancer.
Excessive exposure to the sun elevates your risk for skin cancer. It also elevates your risk for oral cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, lip cancer is often associated with too much sun. If you are a person who enjoys basking in the sun or your job requires you to work outside all day, you need to take precautions against sunburn. Lip cancer usually occurs on the lower lip and is more common in men than women. When you put on sunscreen, be sure to include your lips. Wear a hat or visor to protect your face and keep the sun’s rays away from your lips. Your dentist or physician should check out any changes in the skin on your lips or bleeding.
Fruits and veggies are on the front lines when it comes to fighting cancers of all types, including oral cancers. The National Cancer Institute has found that deficiencies in vitamins C and E are linked to increased oral cancer risk. Conversely, eating foods with high counts of these important vitamins lowers your risk.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is transmitted via skin-to-skin contact during sexual contact. There are more than 150 forms of this virus, with the strains that cause genital warts considered as low-risk variants. HPV 16 and 18, however, are high-risk forms that can cause cervical, vaginal and penile cancer and oropharyngeal cancer too. Surprisingly, the American Dental Association has discovered that out of all oropharyngeal cancers diagnosed, 63% are caused by HPV. The good news is there are vaccinations for HPV.
Your oral health is important, and at Jefferson Dental Care, we are committed to helping you maintain it at the highest level. So, call today and schedule an appointment for a full dental checkup, including an oral cancer screening.
Posted on Behalf of Jefferson Dental Care