Oral cancer is a rapidly spreading disease in the U.S., with close to 37,000 Americans being diagnosed annually. The thing about this disease though is that it can be so easily prevented. In fact, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), 63% of all cases can be prevented each year! That’s 22,000 cases!
So, what needs to be done to reduce the number of those afflicted? Educate the masses.
It’s really that simple. There are four things people can do to avoid contracting this deadly disease. They are:
- Avoid chewing or smoking tobacco.
It’s no secret that tobacco is the leading cause of lung, oral, larynx, stomach, uterus, cervix, colon, ovary and many other types of cancers. Combine tobacco with alcohol use (which many do) and you have created a killer duo…literally.
- Limit alcohol intake.
Believe it or not, but alcohol is also another huge culprit of oral cancer. Any more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women increases risk exponentially.
- Eat your veggies!
AICR studies show that fruits and veggies protect the mouth from cancers such as pharynx and larynx, stomach and esophagus. The best thing you can do for your mouth then is to consume five servings a day. If you really want to kick all risk, incorporate grains and legumes into each meal, as they contain strong cancer fighting chemicals.
- Visit your dentist regularly.
As we’ve explained in a recent post, dentists are the only group of people who make it a part of every check up to screen for oral cancer in its earliest stages. You cannot tell by simply looking at the mouth that one has oral cancer – you need to test their saliva and look for cancerous cells via a biopsy. While it is true that an MD can run an MRI or CT Scan and then tell you that you have oral cancer, most won’t run a scan unless a patient is already showing symptoms, at which point the cancer has progressed to a more severe stage.
That being said, it’s imperative to your health that you show up for your 6-month check ups, especially if you’re known to drink and smoke. It won’t cost you much, and it might just save your life.
Check out our services to see why we make oral cancer screenings such an integral part of our practice, and to see how we can best serve you.