There are two simple ways to prevent oral cancer and other types of head and neck cancer – quit using tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco or snuff) and reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption. Although typically associated with lung cancer, tobacco is also the most common cause of cancerous oral lesions, and nicotine is most likely the culprit. High levels of nicotine in chewing tobacco damage the inner lining of the cheeks, giving nicotine and other toxic chemicals easy access to the bloodstream and other parts of the body. Seventy-five percent of all cancerous mouth and throat tumors are related to tobacco and alcohol use. Heavy smokers (more than two packs a day) and heavy drinkers (more than four alcoholic drinks a day) have a seven-times greater chance of developing oral cancer than nonsmokers and nondrinkers.
Staying healthy requires good preventive maintenance. Part of this maintenance includes proper oral hygiene, which is an essential contributor to your overall well-being.
Maintaining good oral hygiene can be achieved by:
- Reducing excessive use of alcohol
- Eliminating use of all tobacco products
- Seeing your dentist twice a year
- Consulting with your physician if a lump, sore, or discolored area does not heal within 10 to 20 days
- Wearing well-fitting denture (if you do not have your natural teeth)
- Adhering to a well-balanced, nutritious diet, which includes fruits, as well as vitamins C and E
This head and neck cancer information is for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as medical advice. It has not been designed to replace a physician’s independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.