HEALTH FRIENDLY: Oral Cancer; Things You Should Avoid
Cancer generally is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissues, while Oral cancer is a cancer that occurs in the mouth. It appears as a growth or sore in the mouth and does not go away.
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The Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon,Dr. Timothy Osodin, in an interview with our health correspondent said Oral Cancer, which includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat) salivary glands, can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.
Causes of Oral Cancer
The causes of cancers are yet unknown however, there are factor that contributes to the growth of cancers including oral cancer. Some of the contributing factors that leads to the growth of oral cancers are.
1. Smoking: – Smoking of Cigarette, Pipe, Snuff and all kinds of tobacco smoking because tobacco has an agent called hydro carbon that stimulates the growth of cancer.
2. Excessive consumption of Alcohol: – The use of alcohol can also predispose somebody to cancer. Alcohol itself does not initiate cancer, however it acts as solvent that helps the substance which causes cancer in Tobacco. Alcohol is not an established risk factor for prostate cancer
3. Poor Oral Hygiene: – when you have neglected your mouth for so long and it becomes very dirty, it starts to irritate the tissues which can lead to oral cancer.
4. Nutritional deficiency: – The lack of vitamin A, C and E predisposes you to other cancers.
5. Family history of cancer: – People who have family histories of other cancers may also develop cancer of the mouth.
6. Excessive sun exposure: – Especially at a young age.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Swellings/thickenings, lumps or bumps, rough spots/crusts/or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth.
- The development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth.
- Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck.
- Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks.
- A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.
- Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice.
- Ear pain.
- A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together.
- Dramatic weight loss.
- If you notice any of these changes, contact your dentist or health care professional immediately.
Oral Cancer Prevention
To prevent oral cancer, here are some dos and don’t:
- Don’t smoke or use any tobacco products and drink alcohol in moderation (and refrain from binge drinking).
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Limit your exposure to the sun. Repeated exposure increases the risk of cancer on the lip, especially the lower lip. When in the sun, use UV-A/B-blocking sun protective lotions on your skin, as well as your lips.
You can take an active role in detecting oral cancer early, should it occur, by doing the following:
- Conduct a self-exam at least once a month. Using a bright light and a mirror, look and feel your lips and front of your gums. Tilt your head back and look at and feel the roof of your mouth. Pull your checks out to view the inside of your mouth, the lining of your cheeks, and the back gums. Pull out your tongue and look at all surfaces; examine the floor of your mouth. Look at the back of your throat. Feel for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes in both sides of your neck and under your lower jaw. Call your dentist’s office immediately if you notice any changes in the appearance of your mouth or any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above.
- See your dentist on a regular schedule. Even though you may be conducting frequent self exams, sometimes dangerous spots or sores in the mouth can be very tiny and difficult to see on your own. The American Cancer Society recommends oral cancer screening exams every 3 years for persons over age 20 and annually for those over age 40. During your next dental appointment, ask your dentist to perform an oral exam. Early detection can improve the chance of successful treatment.