Oral cancer is relatively uncommon, but it is on the increase. In 2010 there were 6,539 people in the UK diagnosed with this disease, and in the same year there were 1,985 deaths from oral cancer, which is more than testicular and cervical cancer combined. There are several well known risk factors for oral cancer and in 2011 a study estimated that 93% of oral and pharyngeal cancers in men and 85% of these cancers in women are linked to environmental and lifestyle factors.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
One of the biggest factors is tobacco usage and the same 2011 study estimated 70% of oral and pharyngeal cancers in men and 55% of these cancers in women were caused by smoking tobacco. Smokeless tobacco usage is also a risk factor as it’s still carcinogenic but its usage is rare in the UK. Another major risk is alcohol usage, and is estimated this accounts for 37% of oral and pharyngeal cancers in men and 17% in women. The risk increases according to alcohol intake, and is greater in smokers than in non-smokers. There is evidence that being infected with the human papillomavirus can increase the risk of cancer especially for cancers of the oropharynx. It’s estimated that approximately 14% of cancers in the oropharynx and 8% of cancers in the oral cavity may be linked to human papillomavirus infection.
Things that Might Reduce Your Risk of Oral Cancer
Having a good diet that includes plenty of vegetables and fruits can significantly reduce the risk of oral cancer, especially in people who drink or smoke. Obviously cutting down on drinking and smoking will reduce the risk considerably.
It’s also been discovered that taking aspirin weekly or monthly could help to cut the risk of developing head and neck cancers. A recent study at Queen’s University in Belfast found that taking a weekly or monthly dose of aspirin could reduce the risk of getting head and neck cancer by up to 22%. The study showed a significant reduction in the risk of these cancers in those aged between 55 and 74 who regularly took aspirin. Apparently it’s most effective in helping to prevent throat cancer, and it is thought aspirin may act as a chemopreventive agent. Although this is good news, experts have urged caution and are quick to point out that people shouldn’t think of taking aspirin just to try to mitigate the effects of bad diet or excess alcohol or tobacco usage.
Regular Dental Check-ups are an Important Preventative Measure
Even though oral cancer is quite rare, early diagnosis is very important and is a key part of your check-up with our dentist at Leeds City Dentalcare. Dr David Brown or whoever you’re seeing at our Leeds surgery will examine all your oral tissues for any signs of this disease. You can also help yourself by keeping an eye out for anything that looks unusual in your mouth. This may be a mouth ulcer that fails to heal within a few weeks, or feeling unusual swellings or lumps in your mouth. If caught early enough the survival rates for oral cancer are extremely high at nearly 90%. However one of the problems with this cancer is that it’s all too easy to miss which is why it’s important you don’t ignore reminders for your check-up at Leeds City Dentalcare.