Cancer - it’s a diagnosis no one wants to hear. In the United States, it’s estimated that one person dies from oral cancer every hour. Among those newly discovered cases, slightly more than half will still be alive in five years.
Of those who are diagnosed, nearly twice as many are men. If those statistics sound a little scary, there’s hope! While perfectly healthy people do get oral cancer, there are things that you can do to reduce your odds of diagnosis.
Change Your Life
Anyone can get oral cancer, but oftentimes lifestyle choices increase those odds of diagnosis. With a few simple changes, you can reduce your chance of an oral cancer diagnosis:
- Tobacco - If you needed one more reason to quit, here it is! The staggering truth is that most people who are diagnosed with oral cancer use some form of tobacco product. It doesn't matter if you smoke or chew; tobacco is a killer, and quitting is an important step in maintaining your good oral (and overall) health!
- Oral HPV - The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a preventable, sexually transmitted disease that’s rapidly catching up to tobacco as the number one cause of oral cancer. If you’re sexually active, take precautions to decrease your risk of exposure, and reduce your odds of an oral cancer diagnosis.
- Alcohol - Did you know that consuming alcohol is a risk factor for oral cancer? Alcohol usage is linked to nearly one third of all oral cancer cases. If you also use tobacco products, your odds become 30 times more likely. As with many things in life, moderation is important - especially when consuming alcohol.
- Too Much Sun - Often times, we forget our lips when we’re heading outside. Instead of only applying sunscreen to your face and body - also hit your lips with some sun protection. Doing so will decrease your odds of cancer, caused by excessive, repeated sun exposure.
- You Are What You Eat - When it comes to food, poor choices can be linked to oral cancer. Opt for a diet that’s rich in colorful fruits and vegetables. Don’t skimp on the vitamin C and calcium-rich options, either. Both have shown that they decrease your risk of oral cancer.
Keep an Eye Out
Continue to improve your odds, by diligently monitoring your mouth with monthly self-exams. With the help of a mirror, closely inspect your mouth for any suspicious symptoms, including lumps, discolored red or gray patches, or persistent sore spots. If you notice any abnormalities, call Greenville Family Smiles right away, so we can schedule you for an examination as soon as possible.
Regular Oral Cancer Screenings
One of the most important things you can do for the health of your smile is visit Dr. Goldston every 6 months for a dental checkup. Your routine visit includes an oral cancer screening, designed to catch oral cancer in the earliest stages, increasing your odds for successful treatment. Call our Greenville office to schedule your appointment.