Posts for tag: Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is one of the more dangerous malignancies people face. But there are ways you can reduce your risk of this deadly disease through changes in lifestyle habits and behaviors.
Two of the better known behaviors for increased oral cancer risk are immoderate consumption of alcohol and the use of tobacco, particularly chewing tobacco and snuff. Eliminating these, especially the latter, can vastly improve your odds of avoiding cancer. Another factor is a strain of the human papilloma virus (HPV 16) that's transmitted sexually, which you can avoid through safe sex practices.
In addition to these lifestyle changes, there's one more you should make to lower your oral cancer risk: adjustments to your diet. Research over the last half century has provided ample evidence of a link between the foods we eat and our risk of all types of cancers, including oral.
The biggest concern is over certain elements in some foods that can damage DNA, the molecular “operating instructions” that regulate the formation and function of our bodies' cells. These elements are collectively known as carcinogens because of their role in cancer formation.
An example of a carcinogen is a group of chemicals called nitrosamines. These form during preservation processes using nitrites in meats like bacon or ham. They're also found in beer or certain preserved fish. To limit your consumption of nitrosamines, you should reduce these and other processed products and replace them with fresh fruits and vegetables, or organic meats and dairy products.
Our DNA can also be damaged by unstable molecules called free radicals that arise during normal cellular function. But there are also substances known as antioxidants that help protect the cells from free radical damage. Many plant-based foods contain nutrients like vitamins C and E that have antioxidant properties, so including them in your diet could help reduce your oral cancer risk.
Several clinical studies over the years have been consistent in their findings that a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of oral or throat cancers, as well as other forms of cancer. Making changes to your diet in that direction, plus other lifestyle changes, could help you avoid this devastating oral disease.
If you would like more information on preventing oral cancer, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Diet and Prevention of Oral Cancer.”
If a simple, painless health evaluation could tell you something very important, would you want to have it? Common sense says you would. That's why Dr. Phillip Tully, your family dentist in Columbus, GA, performs oral cancer screenings with each of his patients. Yes, at your six-month check-up, Dr. Tully will look at your oral mucosa--that is, the soft tissues of your mouth-- checking for signs of the disease that harms tens of thousands of Americans annually. With early diagnosis, cure rates soar.
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer is an overgrowth of malignant cells within the mouth, on the tongue, cheeks, back of the throat, salivary glands and lips. New diagnoses of this potential killer number close to 50,000 each year in the United States alone, says the Oral Cancer Foundation. Unfortunately, many cases remain undetected because individuals are not routinely screened.
Screening for oral cancer
Both you and your family dentist in Columbus, GA, can participate in watching for oral cancer. For you the patient, the screening process is as simple as being aware of what is happening inside your mouth. Inspect in and around it as you perform your daily oral hygiene routines. Look for:
- Changes in dental bite or in the fit of a denture
- A sore (red or white) that doesn't heal within 14 days
- A hoarseness in your voice
- Difficulty eating and swallowing
- Bleeding, numbness or facial pain that persists and seems to have no cause
Your family dentist's part is a visual inspection of every individual 18 years and older. Dr. Tully will palpate, or feel, the sides of your neck (lymph nodes) and look carefully at your lips and inside your mouth, including under the tongue and at the roof of your mouth. The process takes just a few minutes as part of your routine check-up, and it's completely comfortable.
Preventing oral cancer
People with suppressed immune systems are prone to oral cancer and to other types as well. Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco present the biggest hazards; Dr. Tully suggests you consult with your primary care physician about a smoking cessation program.
Additionally, some research suggests a diet low in fruits and vegetables creates an environment for oral cancer growth. Exposure to HPV, or the Human Papillomavirus, is another risk factor as are sun exposure and excessive alcohol intake.
Be informed and vigilant
Dr. Phillip Tully and his professional team will help you stay on guard against oral cancer. Is it time for your semi-annual check-up and cleaning? Why not call the office today to schedule your routine appointment? Phone (706) 323-6491.