Reducing The Risk of Oral Cancer

August 18, 2021 by admin0

A mouth sore that won’t heal. A rough, crusty spot on the lip that won’t go away. A cough or hoarseness that doesn’t clear up. In some cases, these might be symptoms of mouth or throat cancer.

Others include

  • red or white patches in the mouth that won’t go away
  • pain or tenderness in the lips or throat
  • a lump or thickening in or around the mouth or throat
  • trouble chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
  • trouble opening your mouth
  • a change in the way your denture fits or your teeth fit together.

Mouth or oral cancer develops on the lips, in the front of the mouth or tongue, under the tongue, in the hard part of the roof of your mouth, or on the insides of the cheeks.1 Throat or oropharyngeal cancer attacks the back of the mouth, including the throat, the back part of the tongue, the soft part of the roof of the mouth, and the tonsils.

Tobacco use is the major risk factor for cancers in the front of the mouth and lips, especially when it is combined with heavy alcohol use (> 4 drinks per day). Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes most of the cancers that develop in the back of the mouth or throat.


Tobacco There are several avenues you can take to help cut the cord with tobacco. Some actions you can take include

  • talking to your dentist or health care provider
  • meeting with a therapist 1-on-1
  • getting together with a group of people who also want to quit

In addition, there are several medications that also may help. They include pills, patches that you wear on your skin, and nicotine replacement gum.

Any one of these might be enough to help you quit using tobacco. Some studies indicate that a combination of actions and medications are more helpful for some people3 It often takes more than1 attempt before a person will succeed in quitting. Talk to your dentist or physician about approaches you might try.

HPV infection

Nearly 70% of cancers in the back of the mouth and throat are linked with HPV infection. Many people are exposed to HPV, but the virus usually goes away without making them sick. In some people, though, the virus doesn’t go away. Years later, it can cause any of several types of cancer to develop, including cancers of the mouth and throat.

Because HPV can lie quietly in your body without making you sick for a number of years, you can be exposed at an early age and not even know it. That’s why, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children, aged 11 through 12 years get the HPV vaccine. This will help prevent infection and may prevent cancer from developing.


Most cancers in the mouth and throat are caused by tobacco use and HPV infection. Tobacco users may find it easier to quit by using any of the actions listed above, medications, or both. To help prevent HPV infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that 11- through 12- year-old children get the HPV vaccine.

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