While many people think oral cancer is a rare cancer, mouth cancers will be newly diagnosed in about 115 new individuals each day in the United States alone, and 1 person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day.
Early detection and screening is key – we want you to know some basics so you can reduce your risk.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.
Oral cancer can develop in 2 places:
- The mouth tissues (oral cavity)
- The throat area behind the mouth (oropharynx)
Risk factors of oral cancer include:
- Tobacco Use – Tobacco is the greatest risk factor of oral cancer. It is also responsible for 22% of cancer deaths every year, worldwide. Approximately 90% of oral cancer patients use tobacco either in smoking or chewing forms.
- Alcohol Use – About 80% of patients with oral cancer consume alcohol. Drink in moderation to reduce your risk and keep your body healthy. The risk is 15 times greater for people who both smoke and drink.
- Exposure to Sun – The sun’s UV rays have been shown to contribute to lip cancer. Wear a moisturizing lip balm containing 15 SPF or higher.
- Exposure to Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV-16): A newly identified risk factor, the HPV-16 virus can lead to oropharynx cancer. The same virus is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women…be sure to visit your doctor regularly.
- Genetics – A small percentage of people (under 7%) do get oral cancers from no currently identified cause. It is believed they are likely related to some genetic predisposition.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle – exercise regularly and eat nutritious foods. Preventive dental care is key too! Be sure to make routine visits to your dentist for regular examinations and oral cancer screenings.
Visit oralcancerfoundation.org to learn more.