Oral cancers amount to approximately 2% of all cancers in women and 3% in men. In the past men have outnumbered women 2 to 1, but these statistics are changing as women are exposed to the same dangerous risk factors as men. Like most cancers, oral cancer has an increased risk with aging, and more than 90% of all oral cancers occur in people over 40. Our cosmetic dentists are all well aware of these statistics, and are available and ready to help you in your oral cancer prevention strategy.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
Avoiding risk factors and taking protective measures may help prevent oral cancer. Read on to learn about some of the most dangerous risk factors for oral cancer and steps to prevent this from happening to you.
Risk Factor #1
Tobacco use is still the leading risk factor in causing oral cancer. If you are using tobacco, you must make this known to your dentist. Our Dallas, TX dentists are strongly encouraging their patients to cease using tobacco in any form.
All forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, as well as smokeless tobaccos such as chewing tobacco and “snuff” are strongly linked to oral cancer. Of course Dallas teeth whitening business is booming because of the unsightly stains that smoking cigarettes can cause, but now we know that tobacco use is also likely to cause oral cancer in the floor of the mouth, as well as in the oral cavity and oropharnyx and on the lips.
But not only does tobacco use cause primary oral cancer, our dentist can discuss with you—from clinical trials—that secondary cancers are being developed in the nearby areas to the primary cancer. These areas include: the nose, throat, vocal cords, esophagus, and windpipe.
Results from clinical trials have proven that when a person stops smoking cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, the risk of oral cancer decreases by one-half within five years! That’s a 50% decrease in these types of cancers! Within ten years of quitting, the risk of developing oral cancer is the same as for an individual who never used tobacco! Our dentists can assist you in finding a smoking cessation program that is right for you.
Risk Factor #2
The use of alcohol is also a major risk factor for oral cancer. Alcoholic drinks increase the risk of leukoplakia—which is an abnormal white patch of cells, as well as eyrthroplakia—an abnormal red patch of cells. Both of these lesions on the mucous membranes may become cancerous.
Of course, you double your risk if you use both alcohol and tobacco together.
As of yet, there are no clinical trials demonstrating a decrease in the risk of oral cancers when a person stops drinking alcohol. But if you feel you may be at risk for oral cancer, remember Mother’s advice—if it’s doubtful—don’t do it!
Other Risk Factors
Other risk factors for oral cancer your our dentists want you to be aware of include excessive sun exposure, and risks from HPV infection. We will be happy to discuss any of these risks and preventative measures further.
Of course, being aware of the risks of oral cancer is important. But acting on them is so much more important—just ask your dentist! Our Dallas, Texas dentists are ready to help you in your oral cancer prevention strategy today!