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Wednesday, Apr 14th

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Home Cancer Oral Cancer Oral Cancer Causes and Prevention

Oral Cancer Causes and Prevention

Causes of Oral Cancer
These symptoms may be caused by cancer or by other, less serious problems. It is important to see a dentist or doctor about any symptoms like these, so that the problem can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

Tobacco use–smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, chewing tobacco or eating Gutka accounts for 80 to 90% of oral cancers. A number of studies have shown that cigar and pipe smokers have the same risk as cigarette smokers. Studies indicate that smokeless tobacco users are at particular risk of developing oral cancer. For long–time users, the risk is much greater, making the use of snuff or chewing tobacco among young people a special concern.

People who stop using tobacco–even after many years of use–can greatly reduce their risk of oral cancer. Special counseling or self–help groups may be useful for those who are trying to give up tobacco. Some hospitals have groups for people who want to quit.

Chronic and/or heavy use of alcohol also increases the risk of oral cancer, even for people who do not use tobacco. However, people who use both alcohol and tobacco have an especially high risk of oral cancer. Scientists believe that these substances increase each other's harmful effects.

Some studies have shown that many people who develop oral cancer have a history of Leukoplakia, a whitish patch inside the mouth, or Erythroplakia which appears as a reddish patch in the mouth. The causes of Leukoplakia are not well understood, but it is commonly associated with heavy use of tobacco and alcohol. The condition often occurs in irritated areas, such as the gums and mouth lining of smokeless tobacco users and the lower lip of pipe smokers.

People who think they might be at risk for developing oral cancer should discuss this concern with their doctor or dentist, who may be able to suggest ways to reduce the risk and plan an appropriate schedule for checkups.

All of us have to worry about tooth decay, but after the age of 40, the risk for an even more serious condition increases dramatically: oral cancer!

Prevention of Oral Cancer
  • Prevention means avoiding the risk factors and increasing the protective factors that can be controlled so that the chance of developing cancer decreases.
  • Tobacco use (cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco) is responsible for most cases of oral cancer. Avoiding or stopping the use of tobacco decreases the risk of oral cancer.
  • Alcohol, particularly beer and hard liquor, are associated with an increased risk of developing oral cancer. The risk of developing oral cancer is higher in people who use both tobacco and alcohol. So avoidance of alcohol would result in a lower incidence of oral cancer.

  • Exposure to sunlight may increase the risk of lip cancer, which occurs most often on the lower lip. People who are outdoors for an extended period of time increase their risk of lip cancer. More than 30 percent of lip cancer diagnoses are in persons with outdoor occupations. Avoiding the sun and/or using a sunscreen or colored lipstick on the lips may decrease the risk of lip cancer.
  • Some studies suggest that being infected with the human papilloma virus (HPV) may increase the risk of oral cancer.
  • A diet high in fruits and fiber is associated with a decreased risk of oral and pharyngeal cancers, particularly among smokers.
  • Chemoprevention is the use of drugs, vitamins, or other agents to prevent or delay the growth of cancer or to keep it from coming back. Tobacco users who have had oral cancer often develop second cancers in the oral cavity or nearby areas, including the nose, throat, vocal cords, esophagus, and windpipe.
  • Eukoplakia–A condition characterized by a whitish patch that develops inside the mouth or throat causes oral cancer.
  • Erythroplakia–A condition characterized by a red, raised patch that develops inside the mouth causes oral cancer.
  • Chronic irritation to the lining of the mouth, due to poorly fitting dentures or other reasons, may increase a person's risk for oral cancer.


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