Controls oral cancer risk factors

According to the WHO, oral cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the world, with more than 500,000 cases per year and a mortality of about 292,000 people. These figures are the result (in most cases) of late diagnosis.

By the time some of its symptoms are detected, metastasis is usually already present, so life expectancy is considerably reduced. Even so, it is possible to prevent it by avoiding its risk factors.

Risk factors for oral cancer

  • Alcohol: 7 out of 10 patients diagnosed are heavy drinkers (according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heavy drinkers are men with two or more alcoholic drinks a day, and women with more than one). If alcohol is added to tobacco, the chances of developing oral cancer multiply.
  • Tobacco: Smoking greatly increases the risk of oral cancer (in addition to other types of cancer, such as lung cancer). Tobacco wreaks havoc in the mouth whether smoked or chewed, and cancer of the cheeks, lips and gums is one of the most serious problems it causes.
  • HPV: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection; it is made up of more than 200 viruses, 40 of which are transmitted orally. Of these, there are low-risk and high-risk viruses, the latter being the ones that cause cancer.

Since 2008, head and neck cancers (especially those occurring behind the tongue or around the tonsils) associated with the Human Papilloma Virus have increased notably. The dentist can help detect oral cancer early by frequent check-ups. It is also important to use protection in sexual relations, since, as we have mentioned, it is a virus that is transmitted by this route and, given its incidence, a vaccine has also been launched for boys and girls between 11 and 12 years of age.

  • Other factors; gender and sex are other factors that also have an influence. Men are more prone to oral cancer because they consume more alcohol and tobacco. As for age, they are usually detected after 55 years of age, although cases of oral cancer associated with HPV are more often diagnosed in young people.
  • Diet is also important, if we eat properly and do not lack nutrients the risk of developing oral cancer, among other complications, decreases.