It may not be one of the most publicized types of cancer, but oral cancer kills more people than cervical, testicular, or liver cancer. In fact, one American loses the battle against oral cancer every hour. The good news is that if it’s diagnosed in the early stages, there is a 90 percent survival rate for the disease. Early detection is the key.
Are you at risk for oral cancer?
Men are at a higher risk of oral cancer, and tobacco use increases your risk. Age also plays a role in your oral cancer risk. Even so, 25 percent of victims of oral cancer have no specific risk factors.
What are the warning signs?
Common symptoms of oral cancer include unexplained mouth bleeding, unusual bumps or thickenings, hoarse voice or changes in your voice, changes in the color of your oral tissues, and difficulty chewing or swallowing. Sometimes your dentist can detect problem areas even before symptoms arise, so it’s important to maintain regular checkups even if you don’t notice symptoms.
What can I do to prevent oral cancer?
- Pay attention to the warning signs, and don’t ignore your body. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Quit using tobacco and alcohol, both of which increase your cancer risk.
- Eat a balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Stay out of the sun as much as possible, and use sunscreen on your lips when you are outside.
- Examine your lips, gums, tongue, cheeks, and the roof of your mouth yourself regularly.
- See your dentist routinely. In addition to thorough checkups, some dentists use special screening tools to looks for oral cancer. You should visit your dentist every six months.