Happy Oral Cancer Awareness Month! While the topic of oral cancer might seem daunting, taking the time to understand the disease and share knowledge is crucial. Increased awareness can contribute to prevention efforts, making it important for everyone to be informed.
Oral cancer encompasses cancers occurring in various parts of the mouth, including the tongue, lips, gums, inside the cheeks, and the roof or floor of the mouth. Shockingly, more than 8,000 individuals succumb to oral cancer annually, making it a highly lethal disease.
One reason why oral cancer has a higher mortality rate compared to other common cancers like testicular cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, thyroid cancer, cervical cancer, or skin cancer is that it often remains undetected until it reaches an advanced stage and spreads to other parts of the body.
While the exact causes of this devastating disease remain unclear, certain potential factors have been identified. By staying informed about these factors, we can remain vigilant and actively work towards preventing oral cancer:
Age: Individuals over the age of 40 are more prone to developing oral cancer. Regular check-ups with your doctor and maintaining good dental hygiene are essential if you fall into this age group. Tobacco: Excessive use of tobacco, whether through smoking or chewing, significantly contributes to oral cancer. Avoiding tobacco is crucial for multiple health reasons, including preventing oral cancer. Alcohol: Overconsumption of alcohol can elevate the risk of oral cancer. Alcohol transforms into a substance called acetaldehyde, causing DNA damage and hindering cell repair. Coupled with tobacco use, alcohol further dehydrates mouth tissues, facilitating tobacco penetration. Sun Exposure: Protecting your lips with SPF is essential, as repeated sun exposure increases the risk of lip cancer, especially on the lower lip. Diet: A lack of essential nutrients from fruits and vegetables weakens the immune system, increasing vulnerability to oral cancer.
Many of these causes are linked to lifestyle choices, which we can control. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle, staying aware, and making small adjustments to habits when necessary can play a significant role in prevention.
If you are concerned about the risk of oral cancer, don’t hesitate to reach out for a screening. Scheduling a visit to our Boca Raton office is an excellent step, as regular dental check-ups serve as the frontline defense against oral cancer!