Oral cancer affects many people today. According to the estimate by the American Cancer Society, more than 53,000 will develop oral cancer in 2020. It is the type of cancer that affects everything that is part of the oral cavity such as the lips, cheeks, teeth, tongue, gums, and areas around the mouth including its roof and floor.
Warning Signs of Oral Cancer
Some of the common signs of oral cancer that you need to watch out for are as follows:
- Mouth sores, swelling, and lumps anywhere in the oral cavity that does not heal for more than two weeks
- White or red patches on the oral cavity
- Sore throat or a feeling of a lump in the throat
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, and moving the jaw
- Persistent bad breath
- Abnormal bleeding in the mouth
- Numbness, or pain and tenderness anywhere in the oral cavity
- Drastic weight loss
Risk factors of oral cancer
While anyone can develop oral cancer, there are certain individuals who have higher chances of developing it. Below are the top 5 risk factors of oral cancer:
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
According to recent medical research, about 70% of oral cancers are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is considered one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the US. With more than 100 types of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), 40 of these are oral HPVs or those that can affect the mouth and throat through oral sex.
Statistics show that oral cancer is twice more common in men than in women. This risk factor can be attributed to the fact that there are more men who drink alcohol and smoke tobacco.
Experts state that oral cancer is more common in people aged 55 years and older than in younger people. One reason for this could be that oral cancer takes several years to develop and most younger people do not get oral screening regularly. Another cause is the weakened immune system in older people; thus, reducing their capacity for fighting the conditions that cause cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, most of the individuals diagnosed with oral cancer smokes tobacco. 7 out of 10 individuals with oral cancer are also heavy drinkers, making alcohol consumption a huge factor in developing oral cancer. The risk is multiplied a hundred times by those who smoke and drink at the same time.
DNA also plays a role in developing oral cancer. There are genetic conditions that put an individual at higher risk of oral cancer. Fanconi anemia, for instance, is a genetic defect that causes blood problems to individuals at an early age.
The fatality rate of oral cancers is really high and scary mainly because there is still no national screening protocol being mandated yet. Contrary to what most people think, oral cancer is one of the most common and most preventable types of cancer. Oral cancer screening is very crucial in determining the success rate of oral cancer treatment. It is important to visit your dentist often and get your oral cancer screening regularly. Your dentist can also help you reduce your risk of oral cancer through frequent dental checkups and proper oral hygiene.