Did you know that every year more than 36,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with oral cancer? The National Cancer Institute reports that, in 2013, 7,890 people died due to cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx. The figures imply that many of us are still not health conscious, and invite the risk of oral cancer by adopting unhealthy habits.
What is oral cancer?
In simple terms, it is a form of cancer detected in the tissues of the mouth (oral cavity), or that part of the throat that is behind the mouth (oropharynx). Oral cancer may occur due to:
- Smoking/tobacco usage
- Previous incidence of other forms of cancer that includes the head and neck area
- Unhealthy diet
- Genetic mutation
What treatments are available for oral cancer?
Oral cancer, if detected early, is highly curable through radiation or surgery, depending on its severity. Advanced stages of the disease are still a challenge for oncologists. A combination of both radiation and surgery is recommended in such cases.
Chemotherapy is also used, mostly in palliative cases, to treat cancer. Scientists are engaged in constant research to find the ultimate cure for the disease, though.
“At least one-third of all cancer cases are preventable. Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer” – WHO (World Health Organization)
Oral cancer is one of the types of cancer that can be prevented. The best ways to keep this disease at bay include:
- A strict NO to smoking, and use of other tobacco-rich products
- Reducing consumption of alcohol
- Eating a healthy diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables
- Exercising regularly
- Practicing good oral hygiene by brushing twice daily and flossing once a day
Ensure that you visit your dental hygienist at least twice a year for regular dental checkups. This will ensure early detection and prevention of any oral problems. Your dentist will also be able to assist you with tips and advice for a better, healthier oral system.
February is observed as the National Cancer Prevention Month. This month, let us all give ourselves a second chance by pursuing fitness of the body and mind. Always remember, it’s never too late to get started.