How to Prevent Mouth Cancer
Mouth (oral) cancer, a type of head and neck cancer, is any cancerous growth located in the oral cavity. As with any type of cancer, oral cancer is a serious medical condition that can lead to permanent injury or death. Although mouth cancer can occur in anyone, 75% or more of all mouth cancer can be linked to modifiable behaviors, such as tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption. In order to avoid mouth cancer, you can take preventative measures.
Maintain a Comprehensive Oral Care Routine
Maintain a good oral care regimen.Maintaining a good oral care routine helps to reduce the risk of mouth cancer by preventing infections and other oral diseases. Brushing your teeth, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash all contribute to an effective oral care routine.
- Repeated and long-term gum disease, poor oral hygiene, and missing teeth can lead to infections that put your mouth under high risk of cancer.
- Make sure you don’t have ill-fitting dentures or sharp, broken teeth that can cause repeated mouth irritation and increase your risk of mouth cancer.
- If you feel like your dentures get dislodged every time you speak or chew, it means that they do not fit well and have to be relined or replaced.
- Denture adhesives containing zinc can be toxic to the cells lining the mouth, and should be avoided.
Conduct oral self-examinations to check for any pre-cancer indicators.Irritation of tissues inside your mouth caused by dental trauma is one of the factors possibly associated with mouth cancer. You can check inside your own mouth using a hand mirror to look for any abnormalities that could be indicators of pre-cancer or cancer. Catching cancer early is one of the best ways to ensure you can treat it before real damage occurs.
- Check all the areas of your mouth, such as your gums, tongue (back and sides), lips, the insides of your cheeks, the roof of your mouth, and under your tongue.
- If you see any color changes, like white, red, or grey patches, you should visit your dentist for a check-up, as it may indicate a pre cancerous condition.
- Also, check for lumps, bumps, painful areas in your mouth.
- If you have an ulcer that is not healing, or if you have repeated ulcers in the same area, then visit your dentist immediately to get your mouth examined.
- Conducting a self-examination at least once a month for a few minutes is a good precaution to take against mouth cancer.
Visit your dentist regularly to get a professional opinion.Even better than giving yourself a self-examination, is allowing a dental professional to examine the state of your mouth. Dentists have been trained extensively in many varieties of mouth disease. Your dentist will be able to quickly and confidently assess the state of your oral health, and warn you if mouth cancer has developed or could develop.
- It is important to visit your dentist every 6 months for a complete oral checkup.
- You can also ask for an oral-cancer screening test if you are under high risk for cancer (for example, due to regular tobacco use).
- Your dentist will check the entire mouth and he/she will identify the precancerous changes in your mouth at early stage.
- These dental check ups are really important to reduce cancer risks, especially in tobacco and alcohol users.
- If pre-cancerous growths (Leukoplakia or Erythroplakia) are identified, your dentist or oral surgeon will remove the abnormal growth areas.
- If you have Erythroplakia or Leukoplakia, your doctors will provide you with medication to lower the risk of cancer. This is called “chemoprevention”.
- Some drugs tested for chemoprevention are (NSAIDs) – Sulindac and Celecoxib).
- Extracts of black raspberries, a protein from soybean has also been tested for chemoprevention.
Make Good Lifestyle Choices
Protect yourself from excessive sun exposure.Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays increases the risk of various kinds of cancer, including cancer of the lips. Avoiding excessive sun can lower your risk of lip cancer, a cancer that can spread to other parts of the mouth.
- If you want to spend time in the sun, be sure to use broad-spectrum lip balm and sunscreen.
- Avoid going out in the sun during peak hours, usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- The lower lips are more commonly affected than the upper lips, due to their higher degree of exposure to the sun.
- Consider using a broad hat, which provides shade to your face and lips.
Eat cancer-preventing foods and avoid foods that are linked to cancer.The foods in your daily diet play an important role in fighting cancer-causing agents in your body. Incorporate plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, while avoiding preservatives and processed foods. This type of diet will minimize your chances of developing mouth cancer.
- Include lots of dark green leafy vegetables, beans, berries, tomatoes, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, soy, green tea, citrus fruits, fish, poultry, and olive oil in your diet.
- Eat at least 2½ cups of vegetable and fruits daily.
- Choose whole grain breads and pastas over the white versions of these foods.
- It is better to prepare foods by baking, boiling, or steaming, rather than grilling and deep-frying.
- Residue and char from grilling can be carcinogenic.
- Do not add artificial food flavors, instead add natural spices and curry powder for flavor.
- Try to avoid red meat and processed meats.
Stop using tobacco products to lower your risk of cancer.Tobacco is one of the leading causes of mouth cancer. Tobacco products, including all forms of smoking and chewing tobacco, bring the cells in your mouth in contact with cancer causing chemicals. Abstaining from tobacco will cut down sharply on the amount of carcinogens that your mouth is exposed to.
- There is a variety of cancer causing chemicals in most tobacco products, such as: stearic acid, nicotine, ammonia, butane, toluene and methane.
- If you are not currently using tobacco, then continue your abstinence for a healthy mouth.
- Avoid social and recreational situations where you will be exposed to or reminded of smoking.
- When you stop using tobacco, the risk for mouth cancer also decreases as your cells repair themselves.
- In order to quit, seek the help of trained advisers or support groups.
- Keep quitting aides, such as nicotine gum and patches, in mind to help you quit.
Limit your alcohol intake to avoid damage to mouth tissues.If you enjoy drinking alcohol, drink only a moderate quantity. Although alcohol's cancerous properties are not fully understood, it has been linked to a variety of cancers.
- Limit yourself to two drinks for a man and one drink for a woman, per drinking session.
- Hard liquors and beer are especially noted for increasing your risk of mouth cancer.
- Excessive alcohol use irritates the cells in your mouth and elevates the risk of cancer.
- Alcohol and smoking work in synergy because their toxins inflict repeated damage to cells inside the mouth.
Avoid contracting human papilloma virus (HPV).Human papilloma virus can increase the risk of mouth cancer. It is commonly transmitted through kissing, sharing drinks, and some kinds of sexual activity. Many people carry the virus with them unknowingly, so try to avoid contracting HPV by taking extra precautions when choosing sexual partners.
- HPV is common in smokers, because the smoke damages the cells lining the mouth and weakens the immune system.
- HPV vaccination may reduce the risk of contracting this infection but is not completely effective.
- This vaccination is only effective if you receive it before getting infected with HPV.
- Therefore, getting vaccinated early in life may reduce the risk of HPV infection.
QuestionHow can I tell if I have mouth cancer?Catbug_meowCommunity AnswerThe only way to know for sure is a biopsy.Thanks!
I have some pain in throat?
- People aged 60 years and older are an increased risk of caner, so if you are of this age check your oral health regularly and take cancer-screening test when you visit your dentist.
- If you have family history of cancer or if you have had any previous head or neck cancer, you need repeated check-up visits with your doctor to reduce the risk of cancer.
- Exercise regularly and eat lot of fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system and protect yourself from cancer
Sources and Citations
- Giesey, N. (2013). Oral cancer screening update. RDH. 33(3), 70-86.
- Regezi, J., Scuibba, J., & Jordan, R. (2010). Oral Pathology: Clinical Pathologic Correlations (Fifth Edition). Singapore: Elsevier Ltd.
- Dave, B. (2013). Why do GDPs fail to recognise oral cancer? The argument for an oral cancer checklist. British Dental Journal, 214(5), 223-225.
- Eastmond, J. (2010). Oral cancer: Detection and prevention in the dental setting. Dental Nursing, 6(1), 14-18.
- Palmer, P. (2001). Soybean chemical promising for oral cancer prevention. By: Access. Apr2001, Vol. 15 Issue 4, p16-16.
- Farah, C. & McCullough, M. (2008). Oral cancer awareness for the general practitioner: new approaches to patient care. Australian Dental Journal, 53(1), 2-10.
- (2006). Patients who are not ready to make a quit attempt. Tobacco Cessation, 45-48.
- Akl, E., Gaddam, S., Gunukula, S., Honeine, R., Jaoude, P., & Irani J. (2011). Waterpipe smoking, oral cancer and other oral health effects. Int J Epidemiol, 39, 834-857.
- Reidy, J., McHugh, E., & Stassen, L. (2011). A review of the role of alcohol in the pathogenesis of oralcancer and the link between alcohol-containing mouthrinses and oral cancer. Journal of the Irish Dental Association, 57(4), 200-202.
- Gupta, R. & Luthra, R. (2012). Denture adhesives: A review. Indian Journal of Dental Sciences. Sep2012, Vol. 4 Issue 3, p85-87.
- Chen, F., Wu, T., & Cheng, Xiangrong. (2014). Cytotoxic effects of denture adhesives on primary humanoral keratinocytes, fibroblasts and permanent L929 celllines. Gerodontology, 31(1), 4-10.
- Piemonte, E., Lazos, J., & Brunotto, M. (2010). Relationship between chronic trauma of the oral mucosa,oral potentially malignant disorders and oral cancer. Journal of Oral Pathology & Medicine, 39(7), 513-517.
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