Did you know that oral cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States? In fact, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation, it is estimated that over 54,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer in 2022. That’s why it’s so important to learn the facts about oral cancer and how to protect yourself from it. This article discusses the risk factors for oral cancer, symptoms to watch out for, and ways to reduce your risk of developing the disease.
So, what exactly is oral cancer? Oral cancer is a type of cancer that affects the tissues of the mouth and throat. It can develop in any part of the oral cavity, including the lips, gums, tongue, palate, or floor of the mouth.
Oral cancer can also affect the pharynx, which is the part of the throat that connects to the back of the nose. Oral cancer is most commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 40, although it can occur at any age. Men are more likely to develop oral cancer than women, and smokers are at an increased risk of developing the disease. Other risk factors for oral cancer include excessive sun exposure (which can damage the lips), a family history of oral cancer, and a history of oral HPV infection.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer. First and foremost:
- If you smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco, quitting is the best way to reduce your risk.
- Limiting your alcohol consumption can also help lower your risk.
- Use a lip balm with SPF sunscreen to protect your lips from the sun; and
- Regularly visit your dentist for oral cancer screenings to catch the disease in its early stages, when it is most treatable.
If you are concerned about your risk of oral cancer, or if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, be sure to make an appointment with the Kenosha Community Health Center’s dental staff by calling 262-447-8583.
Early detection is key to successful treatment, so get your dental check-up and ask your dentist to screen you for oral cancer.