April: Oral Cancer Awareness Month
In 2018 alone, it is estimated that over 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancers and caners of the throat, tonsils, and back of the tongue. Early detection is key, and regular visits to the dentist can catch premature signs of cancer. Read on for the top risk factors for developing oral cancer:
- Gender: Men are two times more likely to get oral cancer. This may be due to higher alcohol and tobacco use, although younger men are more prone to HPV-related forms of oral cancer.
- Age: Most people diagnosed with oral cancer are 55 and older.
- Tobacco: Any tobacco use puts you at higher risk. Smoking can cause not only oral cancer, but also lung cancer. Pipe smokers face increased risks for lip cancer, and smokeless tobacco can cause cheek, gum and lip cancer.
- Alcohol: 70% of oral cancer patients are heavy drinkers, which is classified as two or more drinks per day for men and one or more drink per day for women.
- HPV: Human papilloma virus has been associated with around 9000 cases of head and neck cancer. People with HPV-positive cancers tend to be younger non-smokers and have a lower risk of death or re-ocurrance.
- Sun exposure: people who work outdoors are more prone to developing lip cancer and should always wear sun protection
- Diet: poor nutrition is another risk factor, and a diet high in fruits and vegetables can lower your risk of developing oral cancer.