Oral Cancer 101 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PREVENTION AND TESTING
C ancer doesn’t discriminate, and oral cancer is no different. In fact, many well-known people throughout history, including U.S. Presidents Grover Cleveland and Ulysses S. Grant, Sigmund Freud, Babe Ruth, Lana Turner, and Rod Stewart, have suffered from oral cancer. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 53,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Luckily, you don’t have to wait for a diagnosis to learn about the details, prevention efforts, and tests for this debilitating disease. Prepare yourself by checking out the points below. DETAILS Oral cancer can appear as an abnormality on your lips, tongue, cheeks, mouth, sinuses, or throat. This life-threatening disease can create swelling, bruises, lesions, speckled patches, and face sores. These symptoms can also lead to difficulty speaking and swallowing and cause ear pain. While cancer can affect anyone, some demographics have a higher chance of getting an oral cancer diagnosis. Men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease as women, with men over 50 being the most vulnerable.
PREVENTION Your habits play a critical role in preventing cancer. Tobacco and alcohol use increase your chances of developing oral cancer, but your diet and exposure to the sun can also put you at risk. According to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, 1 in 4 people diagnosed with oral cancer are not tobacco users and only drink occasionally. Abstaining from excessive alcohol and tobacco usage is a great way to lower your risk, but keeping your sun exposure and diet in check as well gives you the best chance of preventing oral cancer altogether. SCREENINGS The best way to monitor your oral cancer risk is by attending regular dental appointments, where screenings are the norm. Dental experts are trained to screen for oral cancer, and they will often feel around the neck and throat for concerning signs. Some experts also use a VELscope exam, which uses fluorescent lighting to highlight any abnormalities in the mouth. Many of these tests are noninvasive and can be performed quickly at a dental clinic. If dental experts find evidence of oral cancer during an exam, they can refer patients to clinics for further testing.
You can learn more about oral cancer, prevention, treatments, and screenings online at OralCancerFoundation.org.
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