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Prevention of oral cancer

How to prevent oral cancer?

1. Quit smoking

Smoking has been observed as a common lifestyle habit in up to 80 to 90% of all oral cancer patients.

It is also seen that quitting smoking decreases the risk of oral cancer. The risk is reduced by up to 50% in people who quit smoking for more than 9 years.

If you are having trouble quitting, speak with a de-addiction therapist who will help you with practical tips and medication.

2. Avoid HPV infections of the mouth

Aside from lifestyle habits, sexual transmission is also a risk factor for
oro-pharyngeal cancer. Unprotected oral sex, or exchange of reproductive fluids can lead to the transmission of the human papilomavirus (HPV), which in turn can manifest as oral cancer. (…)

HPV is also the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers. HPV-16 is the viral subtype that is responsible for most cases of oral cancer, and affects men and women equally.

3. Clean your teeth and between your teeth

It’s important to brush your teeth twice a day. Flossing is important to ensure that no food particles remain between the teeth.

An unclean oral cavity also severely affects your immune system, and inhibits your body’s ability to fight off potential cancers.

4. Visit a dentist regularly

The early signs of mouth cancer are more likely to be noticed by a dentist during a regular visit. This could be a small lesion inside the mouth, an ulcer on the tongue or any abnormal growth in the mouth.

Regular visits to the dentist will improve your chances of spotting mouth cancer, while it is still in the early stages. At this point, treatment will be easier, less expensive and more successful, when compared with treatment in the later stages.

This is particularly important for those who smoke or consume alcohol regularly. Even in the absence of such habits, visiting a dentist every 6 months is a great way to ensure good oral hygiene.

5. Perform a self-examination at least once every month

Just like breast self-exams, oral self-exams are a great way to spot and eliminate threats early-on.

If you see (or feel) anything suspicious, such as lumps, bumps, tender areas or coloured (red/white/grey) patches, schedule an appointment with your dentist to get it checked immediately.

6. Choose foods that prevent cancer

A diet containing sufficient fresh vegetables and fruits can lower your risk of all types of cancers.

Eat a lot of beans, berries, leafy and fibrous vegetables (such as cabbage and broccoli), flax seeds, garlic, grapes, green tea, soy and tomatoes for their antioxidant properties and heightened roles in preventing cancer.

Avoid processed foods, foods high in salt content like chips, and foods high in sugar content like cold drinks. These provide empty calories that increase your energy levels temporarily but do not provide nutrition to the body.

7. Limit sun (UltraViolet) exposure

You may already be aware that it is important to wear sunscreen when you step outdoors. It protects our skin from UV radiation and from skin cancer. Many who regularly use sunscreen, forget to protect their lips.

Repeated UV exposure increases the risk of cancer on the lips, especially the lower lip. Using UV-A/B-blocking sun-protection for your lips when you step outside, may help prevent lip cancer.

8. Exercise regularly

Obesity increases your risk for all types of cancer. To keep your weight in check, a balanced diet and an active lifestyle is important.

30 mins of exercise a day is highly recommended. This could include brisk walking, sports, aerobic exercises, swimming, muscle training etc.

An active lifestyle helps to boost the immune system, and reduces your risk of developing cancer.

As the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’. By following the above given practical steps, you will drastically cut down your risk of developing advanced stage oral cancer.