Oral Cancer Awareness Month
Written by DDS Miami
April is oral cancer awareness month and we want our patients to be knowledgeable about oral cancer and its symptoms. Oral cancer is not just about oral health, but overall bodily health. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, one person every hour of every day dies from oral cancer. Surprisingly, awareness about oral cancer is an all time low in the American population. Therefore, it is of great importance that our patients be aware of oral cancer.
General risk factors are:
Smoking and Tobacco
Excessive Alcohol Drinking
Oral cancer is divided into 2 categories. The first category of oral cancer can occur in the oral cavity which is your lips, inside your lips, cheeks, teeth, gums, the tongue and your whole mouth (floor and roof). The second category of oral cancer can occur in the oropharynx which is the middle of your throat including the tonsils and base of the tongue. Most of us don’t think much about checking our mouths so thoroughly, but evidently it is important for our health.
According to Mouth Healthy, the symptoms of oral cancer last for longer than two weeks and you should let your dentist know if you have any of the following:
A sore or irritation
Red or white patches
Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
Feeling of a Sore Throat
Prevention consists of being aware of your risk factors. According to the American Dental Association, the top 7 risk factors are:
These are common risk factors for other cancers as well. However, in the case of gender men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer due to alcohol and tobacco use. Men of younger age being diagnosed with HPV also factors in for oral cancer. As with many other types of cancer, ages 55 and older are at risk for oral cancer according to the American Cancer Society. Nonetheless, as previously mentioned HPV is a huge factor in oral cancer. Heavy drinking is another risk factor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heaving drinking is an average of 2 drinks a day or more for men and one drink a day or more for women. Heavy drinking and heavy smoking increase your risk of oral cancer significantly. The sun’s UV rays affect your lips which could put you at risk for lip cancer. Make sure you eat a healthy balanced diet to help prevent oral and other cancers.
Overall, oral cancer is like any other cancers, a scary thing. However, regular check ups at the dentists help prevent oral cancer or allow for early detection of oral cancer. Make sure to spread awareness this month of April, oral cancer awareness month!