The risk of oral cancer !

The risk of oral cancer !

March 10, 2020 7:22 am Published by

Cancer is not exactly dinner party conversation, but it’s important to be aware – and to know the risks. Oral cancer can be life-threatening if not caught early on. Read on for more information.

  • What is it?

Oral cancer includes cancer of the lips, cheeks, mouth, tongue, throat and the sinuses. Cancer means uncontrolled cell growth – this happens when cell DNA is damaged, and the normal cycle is broken. Over time, the cells can form a tumor, and cancer spread to other parts of the body.

  • Symptoms

Symptoms can be hard to spot, but often start with a problem in the mouth that is stubbornly persistent. For example an ulcer, a swelling or lump in the mouth, or sores that don’t seem to heal within a couple of weeks. You might also notice the development of red or white patches inside your mouth. Or, you could suffer from a very bad sore throat or have difficulty in chewing, eating and talking. If you start to suffer from anything painful or unusual that interferes with your daily life and won’t seem to go away, or any sudden and dramatic changes like major weight loss, you should get medical help.

  • Who’s at risk

Men are twice more likely to contract oral cancer when compared to women, according to the American Cancer Society, and men aged over 50 are at particularly high risk. Lifestyle choices can also play a part. If you smoke or drink alcohol very heavily, then you are much more likely to develop oral cancer. The HPV-16 virus is a recently-discovered cause of oral cancer too. This virus is not commonly understood, and while most people will have it – most people will clear it also. The best way to manage the risk is to have regular medical check-ups, so your doctor can advise a smear test if it’s needed. Lastly, just like skin cancer, too much exposure to the sun and sun damage can make oral cancer a bigger risk.

  • Prevention

First, you should see your dentist regularly, for quality dental care. As part of a normal exam, they will check for lumps, bumps or swellings. You can also check yourself at home, though it’s no substitute for a professional opinion. Good oral care means no smoking, and having a healthy, varied diet. If you like to have a drink, don’t do it excessively! Always wear sunscreen when outdoors in bright sunlight. This will help make sure you have healthy teeth and gums.

  • Treatment

Early oral cancer detection is key. If your dentist does spot something, they may want to take a biopsy to be sure. If the diagnosis is confirmed, you’ll need to see a specialist to go through your treatment options and decide the correct route for you. Oral cancer is usually treated by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, who will remove the cancerous growth. Then, radiation or chemotherapy, performed by an oncologist, aims to kill any remaining cancerous cells. The earlier the cancer is spotted – the more treatment options you will have.

  • Keeping healthy

A thorough daily dental hygiene routine will help make sure you have healthy teeth and gums. This will mitigate the risk of developing oral cancer. Brush twice and day, and floss regularly. Keep a lookout for any sudden changes in and around your mouth if you are concerned about cancer risks. Having said this, a good daily routine is no substitute for good oral care from a professional dentist. Be sure to visit the dentist every six months for a check-up, and ask for an oral exam.

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