As the name suggests, oral cancer is a type of cancer that affects the oral cavity. The term oral cancer is actually a very broad terminology that describes different types of cancers affecting or beginning in the oral cavity or in the mouth. They can effect various parts of the mouth including the tongue, lips, gums, cheeks, the floor of your mouth or the roof of your mouth. Another common term used to describe oral cancers is head and neck cancers.
While rare, relative to other types of cancers, it is still deadly form of cancer with very low survival rates. It affects more than 100,000 people globally and has a survival rate of only 30%. Typical oral cancer symptoms include the numbness of mouth, a lump in your neck, difficulty in swallowing, pain in swallowing etc. In some cases, mouth cancer will even lead to speech impairment.
Given its high attrition rate, it is important to put in place good preventive measures that will protect you from oral cancer in the future. These could range from going for routine screening tests to making some important lifestyle changes. Here are some tips that could protect you from oral cancer in the future:
Smoking is one of the leading causes of oral cancer so quitting early could significantly minimise chances of you contracting oral cancer. Research has shown that quitting smoking for a period of one to four years will minimise the risk of oral cancer by up to 30%. Quitting smoking for a period of 20 years reduces the risk by up to 80%.
Go for routine oral cancer screening tests
Routine screening tests will ensure the cancer is detected early enough which increases the chance of a successful treatment. Make a point of doing this during your routine dental visits which can lead to early opportunistic detections. The importance if routine screening and early detection is best underscored by the statistics on the five year survival rates for the various stages of oral cancer:
Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol
Excessive consumption of alcohol has been associated with the increased incidences of oral cancer. The more drinks you take per day and the longer you consume you alcohol over several years, the greater the risk of contracting a form of oral cancer. If this is combined with alcohol, the risk multiplies even further.
Use a sunblock or sunscreen
Exposure to strong rays from the sun may cause lip cancer so if you are planning to hit the beach, make sure you use a lip balms that contain sunscreens for extra protection.
There are other causes of oral cancers that might be out of your control such as genetic predisposition but early detection and treatment can increase the chances of recovery and survival. So make sure you are screened on a regular basis.