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Oral Cancer: The Top 10 Factors Putting You at Risk

An estimated 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, but most of these cases are avoidable. It’s essential to have regular check-ups with your dentist to detect oral cancers early. Early detection is your best chance for finding a cure.

To help reduce your risk of developing oral cancer, it’s important to perform self-examinations of the gums, teeth, tongue, and cheeks at least once a month. If you notice any red or white patches or have a chronic sore throat or abnormal bleeding, schedule an appointment with an oral and facial surgeon immediately. Innovative Implant and Oral Surgery team will relieve your pain and rebuild your smile using the most innovative and reliable techniques available.

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, so we’ve compiled the top 10 risk factors for oral cancer. A healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk for oral cancer, as well as many other diseases and conditions.

The top 10 risk factors for oral cancer

There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. These include:

  • Tobacco
    Smoking tobacco products have been directly linked to causing oral cancer. Smokeless tobacco, like chew, can also lead to cancer of the cheeks, gums and lips.
  • Alcohol
    Consuming more than two alcoholic beverages per day for men (one for women) has been linked to higher rates of oral cancer.
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
    HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that is associated with approximately 9,000 cases of head, neck and oral cancer diagnosed each year in the United States.
  • Ultraviolet light
    People who work outdoors, or spend significant amounts of time outdoors, have a higher risk of developing lip cancer. It is important to wear a lip balm with an SPF or 30 or higher to protect your lips.
  • Diet
    Poor nutrition has been linked to a higher risk of oral cancer. Fill your plate with a wide variety of leafy greens and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to help improve your health and lower your risk of oral cancer.
  • Gender
    Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer because they have a higher rate of alcohol and tobacco use.
  • Age
    Cancers of the oral cavity usually take many years to develop, so they are typically uncommon in younger people.
  • Weak immune system
    People with weakened or compromised immune systems are unable to fight off disease and infection and are often more susceptible to diseases like oral cancer.
  • Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)
    GVHD is a condition that occurs after a stem cell transplant. When the donor stem cells recognize the patient’s cells as foreign and treat them like they would a disease or infection. This has been linked to a higher risk of oral cancer.
  • Genetic syndromes
    People with certain genetic syndromes (e.g., faconi anemia or dyskeratosis congenita) have a very high risk of oral and throat cancer. These conditions often affect the health of your blood, skin, cells and genes.

The earlier treatment for oral cancer can begin, the better. If you notice any signs or symptoms, make sure you visit an oral and facial surgeon right away to increase your chances of finding a cure. If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment, the team at Innovative Implant and Oral Surgery  will thoroughly explain your options and personalized care plan during your initial consultation. Contact us at 215-322-7810 to get started.