Who Is at Risk for Oral Cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 54,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in the nation each year. As a leading provider of oral cancer screenings in Bloomington, IL, Wyse Family & Cosmetic Dentistry understands the importance of recognizing signs that it’s time to turn to a professional for a thorough evaluation. Let’s take a closer look at the risk factors associated with oral cancer:
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Tobacco and Alcohol Use
Tobacco use, whether that be cigarette smoking or using other tobacco products such as snuff, is linked to cancers affecting the cheek, gums, and inner surface of the lips. In fact, most individuals with oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer have a history of tobacco use. Drinking alcohol increases the risk, as well — and smoking and drinking multiply the risk of oral cancer even further.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection
The most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., HPV can infect the mouth and throat, causing cancers of the back of the throat — the oropharynx — including the base of the tongue and tonsils. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV is thought to cause about 70% of oropharyngeal cancers in the nation.
Age and Weight
Cancers affecting the mouth typically take many years to develop and are not as common amongst younger individuals. In fact, oral cancers are usually found in those in their 50s, although HPV-linked cancers tend to be diagnosed earlier. Excess body weight and poor nutrition have also been linked to an increased risk of cancers of the oral cavity.
Excessive Sun Exposure
High exposure to the sun without protection measures has been linked with cancer in the lip area.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Each individual with oral cancer can experience different symptoms, and some of them can be indicative of other disorders altogether. While we encourage you to always consult a trusted health care provider for an accurate diagnosis, here are some common symptoms of oral cancer:
- A sore in your mouth or on your lip that doesn’t heal
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of your mouth
- Atypical bleeding, pain, or numbness of the mouth
Minimizing Your Risk of Oral Cancer
While there’s no proven way one can prevent oral cancer entirely, there are ways you can minimize risk:
- Refrain from using tobacco: Using tobacco exposes cells in your mouth to cancer-causing chemicals
- Drink alcohol in moderation: Excessive alcohol use can irritate cells in your mouth
- Visit your dentist regularly: Ask our Bloomington team to inspect your mouth for abnormal areas or anything that may indicate precancerous stages
Schedule an Oral Cancer Screening
Our team offers a full suite of solutions that not only restore or maintain a bright, attractive smile, but also help promote overall health. Contact our practice in Bloomington for more information about how our dentists can help keep your mouth healthy. Contact us online or call (309) 663-6393.