Oral cancer affects more than 700 Quebeckers every year. It’s important for people to be informed about its causes so that those at risk have a better chance of preventing it.
In this article, find out about the risk factors for oral cancer and what you can do to prevent it.
The causes of oral cancer
There are a variety of risk factors that can cause oral cancer. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, some of the known risk factors for this oral pathology are:
- Smoking and drinking alcohol
- Poor oral health
- Previous cancer diagnosis
- Family history of squamous cell carcinoma (the most common type of oral cancer)
- Sun exposure
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Knowing the causes and symptoms of oral cancer makes it easier for those at risk to take preventive measures to limit their chances of developing the disease.
Oral cancer prevention
If you think you may be at risk of developing oral cancer, there are habits you can adopt to try to prevent it. Here are a few of them.
Maintain good oral hygiene and get regular oral exams
Maintaining good oral hygiene will help keep your mouth and teeth healthy. Brush your teeth after meals and before bed, and floss daily.
It’s also important to visit a dentist regularly for a full oral exam. With technology like 3D radiology, dentists can detect any abnormalities that may be related to oral cancer and refer you to an oral and maxillofacial specialist for treatment.
Even if you wear a full set of dentures, it’s important to visit your dentist periodically. Oral cancer can also occur in the gums or soft tissues of the mouth.
Limit smoking and alcohol consumption
As mentioned above, smoking and drinking alcohol significantly increase your risk of developing oral cancer. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you quit smoking (and any other tobacco consumption) and limit your alcohol consumption to the minimum in order to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.
Protect yourself from the sun
Oral cancer includes cancer of the lip. Like the rest of your skin, your lips are sensitive to the sun’s rays. It’s important to protect them to avoid the serious consequences of prolonged exposure.
Apply a lip balm with SPF when you’re going to be out in the sun. It’s also a good idea to wear a wide-brimmed hat and keep to the shade when the sun is at its strongest.
Eat lots of fruit and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are good for your health in general, but they have an added benefit when it comes to preventing oral cancer.
Fruits and vegetables, particularly those that are yellow, orange or dark green, contain carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that have been shown to limit the damage to cells in the mouth, reducing the risk of oral cancer.
Clinique MFML: Oral pathology specialists in Montreal
Oral cancer is a serious disease. It’s important to know what the risk factors are in order to have a better chance of preventing it. Changing certain lifestyle habits can greatly reduce your risk of developing the disease.
If you ever notice signs and symptoms of oral cancer, don’t hesitate to contact Clinique MFML. Our maxillofacial surgeons are experts at detecting and treating oral pathologies.