Cancer of the mouth, or oral cancer, refers to cancer that occurs in the tissues of the mouth that include the tongue, lips, gums and cheeks. Mouth cancer is one of the most serious cancers, but is also one of the most preventable. With only a few known major risk factors, oral cancer is one of the rare cancers that people can avoid by making good choices about diet and the use of tobacco and alcohol.
Know the Risk Factors for Mouth Cancer
Recognize that the use of tobacco is by far the greatest risk factor for oral cancer. Do not use chewing tobacco, cigarettes, cigars or pipes if you want to prevent mouth cancer.
Do not put yourself at risk for mouth cancer by consuming large amounts of alcohol. Drinking large quantities of alcoholic beverages is associated with increased risk for mouth cancer.
Know that age and gender can also be correlated with the risk of developing oral cancer. The risk of getting cancer of the mouth increases in people over the age of 45, and the cancer occurs more commonly in men than in women.
Be aware that exposure to the sun can be a risk factor when it comes to contracting cancers on the lips.
Take Other Measures to Prevent Mouth Cancer
Use lip balms with UV protection to lower your risk. In addition to avoiding the major risks associated with tobacco and alcohol use, protect yourself by using sunscreen on and around your lips.
Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and avoid eating foods high in fats and sugars.
Have your doctor and dentist check for signs and symptoms of mouth cancer during regular checkups and physicals, especially after the age of 45
Tips & Warnings
- If you believe that you might be at risk for oral cancer or think you may have symptoms of mouth cancer, you should see a physician.
- Ask your physician about self examination procedures to recognize symptoms of oral cancer.
- Remember that as a patient, you have the right to be informed of all your treatment options and be a decision maker in the treatment