Oral cancer can manifest in various ways, and are not always easy to see. Symptoms vary on the type of cancer, whether it is on the lips, tongue or cheeks. Not all patients will have irritation or pain. Some symptoms can be barely noticeable, especially in its early stages. This is the reason why these cancers are usually undiagnosed until its later stages, when they have already spread to the lymph nodes.

Generally, men have a higher chance of developing oral cancer. In the recent years, we have seen a spike on patients under 50 years old diagnosed with oral cancer. Patients who survive a first encounter have a higher risk of developing another related cancer. Those on immunosuppression medications have an increase risk of neck and head cancer. Biopsy is the only way to diagnose oral tumors and lesions.

Fortunately, oral cancer is still treatable. We have seen a spike in survival rates these days because of the current treatment advances. In fact, some cancers have been found to have up 90 percent survival rates. Also, many oral cancers can be prevented with some healthy lifestyle choices and sensible self-care. Listed below are some preventive and control tips.

Quit Tobacco Use

Tobacco users have a higher risk of developing neck and head cancers. Smoking and smokeless tobacco play a direct role in causing these kinds of cancers. Tobaccos that are directly placed in the mouth creates gray-colored ulcers in the mouth called leukoplakia that can develop into cancers. Smokeless tobacco contains chemicals that can damage a gene that offers protection against cancer.

Consume Alcohol Moderately

Just like smoking, the longer the use and the more you consume alcohol, the higher your risk is at developing oral cancer. Alcohol plays a crucial role in changing the chemistry of the body, breaking down its defenses against diseases like cancer. People who consume over 3 alcohol drinks per day increase they risk for oral cancers by up to three times. Combining excessive drinking plus smoking has a multiplying effect.

Regularly Visit the Dentist

Most of the time, dental hygienists and dentists first notice any potentially cancerous growths. They can catch these things in their early stages during routine dental examinations, and subsequently refer you to a head and neck surgeon, or an ear, nose and throat specialist. These specialists can confirm the diagnosis and immediately start the necessary treatments to eliminate the cancer. Aside from this, it is also important to regularly brush and floss to keep the teeth and mouth healthy.

Get HPV Vaccination

The HPV or human papilloma virus is associated with oral cancers. HPV-related cancers are common among men in their 40s or 50s. They have very minimal symptoms, so they are hard to spot. HPV can be prevented by getting vaccinated before you become sexually-active. Vaccines available today protect against two HPV strains. It is hoped that cases of these kinds of cancers will decrease as more people get vaccinated.

Give Your Lips UV Protection

Lip cancer is caused by ultraviolet radiation exposure from the sun. People who work outdoors or have prolonged sun exposure have a higher chance of developing lip cancer. Just like the skin, the lips can also get sunburned. Aside from limiting sun exposure during peak hours, it helps to wear a lip balm with SPF whenever you are outside. Also, wear hats to shield your face from sunlight.
If you experience any symptoms like mouth sores or lumps that do not heal; pain and bleeding in the mouth lasting for days; dramatic voice changes; lip and chin numbness; and persistent earaches; visit your health care provider as soon as you can. If it is cancer, and it is diagnosed early, it has a better chance of being successfully treated.

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