Oral Cancer Prevention: Early Symptoms And 9 Preventive Measures You Should Apply In Your Life
In this article, we’ll discuss some easy to follow oral cancer prevention measures along with its early symptoms.
Oral cancer affects the mouth, tongue, lips, and throat. Oral cancer occurs when the cells in the mouth or the throat divide uncontrollably. If not addressed timely, oral cancer can be fatal. The majority of the oral cancers develop in the squamous cells of the mouth or throat. Squamous cells form the epidermis, i.e. the topmost layer of the skin. This type of disease is part of a broader category of cancers called oropharyngeal cancers.
As of 2019, the number of oral cancer cases in the USA was around 53,000. The statistics worsen in developing countries. India, for example, records over a million cases of oral cancer every year. Men are twice more likely to be affected by oral cancer than women. Likewise, people who use any form of tobacco are at an increased risk.
Symptoms Of Oral Cancer
Oral cancers generally surface as sores or lesions of the mouth that do not heal within 2 weeks.
- White patches in the mouth
- Swelling of the jaw or the face
- Difficulty in swallowing or chewing
- Chronic sore throat
- Unexplained bleeding of the mouth or gums
- Ill-fitting dentures
- Red sores in the mouth that may also bleed
Measures For Preventing Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can be a fatal illness if not addressed appropriately and timely. However, instead of focusing on the treatments, one should take preventive measures to the best of their capacity. Thinking in advance would not only lead to oral cancer prevention but also help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Some preventive measures are outlined as under:
1. Optimum Nutrition
Lack of appropriate nutrition in one’s diet increases the risks of many cancers. A proper nutritious diet is necessary for the prevention of any disease. Consuming all the required nutrients ensures a healthy immune system. A strong immune system is efficient in tackling cancer cells. Eat foods that promote mouth health. Such foods can include Brussels sprouts, squash, and carrots.
2. Cooking Methods
Eating the right foods is only half the job. To get the best out of the food you eat, cook it appropriately. Cooking at high temperatures depletes all the nutrition from the fruits and vegetables. Make a smarter choice, and have most of your food boiled, baked, or steamed. You should also make sure that you use the right oils for cooking. Preparing your food in carcinogenic substances can increase your risk of oral cancer.
3. Quit Tobacco
It is a well-established fact that tobacco use increases cancer risk. Using tobacco such as snuff greatly increases the risk of oral cancer. Chewing tobacco can cause white cancerous sores in the mouth. This form of tobacco consumption also weakens and destroys some genes known to fight cancer.
Quitting tobacco will also improve your oral health. You may not lose your teeth or fall prey to gum diseases. Along with tobacco, chewing areca nuts are also known to enhance the risk of oral cancers.
4. Quit Smoking
Just like tobacco, smoking also increases the risk of mouth cancer manifold. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, all contain hazardous amounts of carcinogens and harmful chemicals. Smoking also increases the risk of lung cancer and other respiratory ailments. How much and for how long you smoke directly affect your risk of cancer. It can be tough to quit smoking but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your family, doctor, and friends can all help you quit smoking.
5. Be Regular With Your Dental Checkups
Your dentist is likely the first person to notice any abnormalities in your mouth. Dental hygiene is not the only thing that dentists look after. They examine every nook and corner of the mouth. These include the back of the mouth and the throat. Hence, it is important to have regular dental checkups. Ideally, you should have a complete oral checkup every 6 months. Regular oral checkups will help you in early diagnosis of cancer, in case you get it.
6. Check Your Alcohol Intake
Drinking alcohol in moderation is known to have health benefits. However, excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking have the exact opposite effect on your body. High alcohol consumption increases the risk of oral, colorectal, and liver cancers. Safe limits prescribed for alcohol are:
- One drink per day for women
- Two drinks a day for men
If you are drinking more than these amounts on a daily basis, consider cutting it down. You will not only reduce the risk of cancers but also other conditions such as hypertension and high blood sugar.
7. HPV Vaccines
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV16) has strong links with oral cancers. More commonly, HPV is linked to oral cancers in the back of the mouth. Hence, make sure you are vaccinated for HPV. The need for vaccination increases more in the people who are or about to be sexually active. This is because HPV can be sexually transmitted. Hence, along with vaccination, one should also practice safe sex.
8. Monthly Mouth Check
Aside from the regular dentist visits, make sure you check your mouth regularly. Ideally, you should check your month properly once a month. Consider looking for any white or red patches or sores that haven’t healed since you last checked. You should also examine the inside of your cheeks and the roof of your mouth.
A thorough examination each month will familiarize you with its condition. In this manner, you can spot any abnormalities and contact your doctor for the same.
9. Use Sunscreen For Your Lips
UV rays of the sun are linked with cancers like multiple myeloma. Similarly, UV rays can also harm the lips and result in lesions. These lesions can be cancerous. People who are often exposed to the sun are at a higher risk of oral cancer. Therefore, it is a good idea to use a lip balm with an SPF over 30.
Oral Cancer Prevention: Wrap Up
Oral cancer can affect any part of the mouth. It can also prove to be fatal if not diagnosed at the right time. However, oral cancer can be prevented. Taking simple preventive steps like eating more fruits, and using sunscreen will help. If you smoke or chew tobacco, seek help, and quit them. You will not only reduce your cancer risks but also lead a much healthy life.
June 25, 2020 Sam Bell