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Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases globally, and one of its most common forms is oral cancer. It is a type of cancer that generally develops in the mouth or throat, including your gums, tonsils, and tongue. In this year alone, the American Cancer Society estimated that approximately 53,260 people are set to get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer, of which 10,750 will succumb to the illness.
Although the death rate has decreased for oral cancer over the last few decades, it still requires prompt treatment and the soonest diagnosis possible to ensure the best chances of survival. To know if you are at risk, be sure to keep up with your twice-yearly dental visits where your dentist will perform an oral cancer screening.
The Signs of Oral Cancer
As with most other cancers, the signs of oral cancer tend to vary between people. However, one of the most common oral cancer symptoms is mouth sores or consistent pain that does not subside.
Oral cancer may also manifest as white or red patches on the lining of the mouth, tonsils, or gums. Other symptoms that indicate oral cancer include constant bad breath, swelling in your neck, trouble swallowing or chewing, and a lump in your cheek. If you have difficulty moving your tongue or jaw, feel like something is stuck in your throat, and have been dealing with weight loss, those are also signs you may have oral cancer.
The Factors That Increase Risk of Developing Oral Cancer
Cancers continue to mystify researchers, as people of various lifestyles are susceptible to developing different types. However, thanks to scientific breakthroughs and further studies, scientists believe that cancers begin to grow once there is damage or mutation in the genetic code responsible for regulating cell growth and death.
They have also found a few factors that contribute to developing oral cancer. Tobacco users, or those that smoke cigarettes, pipes, cigars, or chew tobacco, are prone to developing oral cancer.
Excessive consumption of alcohol has also been demonstrated to increase the risk of developing oral cancer. The danger is even more severe with heavy smokers who drink large amounts of alcohol.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) has also been linked to oral cancer. There has also been an increase in oral cancers caused by the virus.
Too much sun exposure can also increase your risk of developing oral cancer. Fortunately, using plenty of sunblock or lip balm with high SPF is an excellent way to protect yourself.
How to Minimize Your Risks
The good news is that oral cancers are among the most preventable types of the disease. The best way to prevent contracting the illness is to stay away from smoking or to stop the habit immediately.
A well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables is also a fantastic way to boost your immune system, which will keep you healthy and strong. If you like drinking alcohol, keeping it in moderation will also help minimize your risk of contracting oral cancer. If you wear dentures, ensure that you remove them at night and clean them every day. Additionally, practicing good oral health habits is essential in preventing oral cancer.
Oral cancer is a deadly and debilitating disease that affects tens of thousands of Americans each year. Although the number of cases has been decreasing over the last few years, it’s a highly preventable illness that remains fatal to this day. Be sure to consult with Langley dental professionals if you have any concerns about your oral cancer risk.
Langley Dental Care is Charlotte’s top preventative and cosmetic dental practice. We want to restore your confidence by helping you achieve a beautiful smile through our many services like teeth cleaning, dental crowns, Invisalign, and porcelain veneers. Make an appointment with us today!