Oral cancer can be hard to detect. Educating yourself about the statistics and risk factors can help you determine if you have a higher-than-average chance of developing the disease, so you can take action quickly to prevent oral cancer.
Facts and Figures
According to the American Cancer Society, 48,330 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2016. Of those diagnosed, 9,570 will die from the disease. Cancer of the oral cavity occurs most often in the tongue, tonsils, gums, floor of the mouth, lips or the salivary glands.
In general, if you are a man 62 or older, you are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition. While race does not play a significant role, gender does. Men are diagnosed more than twice as often as women. A little over one-quarter of those diagnosed are aged 55 and under, but the rest are older, making age a major factor as well.
Do You Smoke?
Besides gender and age, the most significant predictor is tobacco use. The U.S. Public Health Service has established a direct relationship between how often and how long you smoke and your likelihood of dying from oral cancer. Lifelong smokers have a much higher mortality rate due to this condition than those who have never smoked. According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, 80 percent of those diagnosed use tobacco in some form.
Do You Drink?
Tobacco is dangerous, but so is alcohol. Out of all those diagnosed with oral cancer, 70 percent drink heavily on a regular basis. Combined, tobacco and alcohol contribute toward a vast percentage of diagnoses.
How’s Your Diet?
Yes, tobacco and alcohol are not helpful in preventing this disease, but diet plays a role as well. In general, diets that do not include a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables are not good for whole-body wellness and have been linked to an increased risk of all types of cancer. You need vitamin C, vitamin E and many other minerals to keep your oral cavity healthy.
Do You Use Sunscreen?
Ultraviolet rays can contribute to the chances of developing the disease. Cancer on the lips is common among workers who spend a vast majority of their time outdoors.
What Can You Do?
You have the power to lower your chances of being diagnosed with oral cancer, and it starts with taking an honest assessment of your health. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible, and if your drink alcohol, reduce your intake to a minimal level. Talk to your doctor about how to change your diet, and always wear lip balm with a high SPF rating.
Also, make sure you keep up with your regular dental visits, as dentists are sometimes the first medical professionals to spot the early signs of oral cancer.
If you have been diagnosed with oral cancer, you need to find an oral surgeon who can give you expert recommendations on the best course of action, and that is the team at Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery — call today to make an appointment for a consultation.