How To Protect Yourself from Oral Cancer
When it comes to health-related fears, few things cause more concern than cancer. Many forms are unpredictable and can develop out of the blue. Luckily, when it comes to oral cancer, there are methods to protect yourself.
1. Reduce Your Risk Factors For Oral Cancer
Just like with other cancers and diseases, there are certain behaviors that raise your risk of developing oral cancer. According to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, a good first step to reduce your chances is to eliminate tobacco use in any form. Whether you prefer to smoke or chew tobacco, doing so dramatically raises your risk of oral cancer.
A second simple step to protect yourself is to lower your intake of alcohol. The Mayo Clinic recommends a healthy level of alcohol consumption as no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
The Prevent Cancer Foundation also recommends using lip balm with SPF 30 or higher and reducing your exposure to harsh sunlight.
When you combine a thorough daily oral hygiene regimen with removing certain high-risk behaviors as suggested above, you can lower your chances of developing oral cancer.
2. Know The Signs Of Oral Cancer
Once you have taken steps to help prevent oral cancer, the next way to protect yourself is to recognize the warning signs. Oral cancer is not only a highly preventable disease, it is also very treatable if caught early.
Medical News Today describes the following as warning signs and symptoms of oral cancer:
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- A lump or sore area in the mouth, throat or on the lips
- A white or red patch in the mouth
- Difficulty moving the tongue or jaw
- Unexpected weight loss
- A sore or ulcer that does not heal or bleeds
- Tenderness, pain or lumps anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other less-dangerous illnesses, so don’t worry too much if you experience any for a short period of time. However, if you experience any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your dentist.
3. Get Regular Oral Cancer Screenings
If you are at increased risk for oral cancer, your dentist may suggest an oral cancer screening during your regular appointment. Even if your dentist does not suggest an exam, we recommend requesting a screening at least once a year to ensure your continued good health.
As outlined by the Oral Cancer Foundation, an exam will include visual and physical components to ensure there are no abnormalities in the oral cavity. Other tools, like a brush that painlessly removes cells for testing and specialized mouth rinses, may also be used.
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