It is essential to be aware of the risk factors for oral cancer. A risk factor is something that can increase the chance of someone developing cancer. While we do not know what causes all mouth cancers, around 90% of mouth cancers can be prevented through lifestyle choices.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Smoking – tobacco, including chewing tobacco, pipes, and cigars, can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. Your Risk increases by up to ten times when compared to people who have never smoked.
Alcohol – drinking excess alcohol can increase your Risk of developing oral cancer, and it is linked to around 30% of all mouth cancers. If you smoke and drink together, then your Risk increases by up to 30 times.
Diet – maintaining an unhealthy diet where you persistently lack vitamins and minerals is linked to around 30% of oral cancers. Therefore, it is recommended to have a balanced diet to take care of your oral and overall health.
Sunlight – if you are exposed to too much ultraviolet radiation, you are at higher risk of skin cancer (including lips). Exposure can occur whether you are in natural sunlight or under a sunbed.
Cancer history – people who have had oral cancer previously have a higher risk of developing it again. You are also more likely to get oral cancer if you have ever developed one of the following:
- Cervical cancer
- Esophagus cancer
- Penile cancer
- Anal cancer
- Squamous cell skin cancer
Signs of Oral Cancer
As with most illnesses, signs of oral cancer will vary from person to person. However, there are some common signs that you need to look out for:
- Mouth sores
- Persistent oral pain
- Red or white patches on the gums or mouth lining
- Neck swelling
- Lump in the cheek
- Difficulty moving jaw or tongue
- Bad breath that does not go away
- Unexplained weight loss
- Problems with swallowing and/or chewing
Know How to Reduce Your Risk
Oral cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancers, and, therefore, it is important to be aware of what steps you can take to minimize your risk.
- Do not smoke / Quit smoking
- Maintain a balanced diet
- Limit your exposure to the sun/sunbeds
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Follow an oral health routine
If you are concerned or have noticed any worrying signs, please schedule an appointment immediately. Give us a call today to get booked in for a dental check-up to help put your concerns to ease.