The best way you can protect yourself from oral cancer is to be aware of what makes you more likely to get it. These are called risk factors. You can’t affect some risk factors, but others you can do something about. Knowing more about the risk factors for oral cancer can help you make healthy choices to help you avoid it.
The primary risk factors for oral cancer are using tobacco and drinking alcohol in large amounts over a long period of time. The risk is increased even more in people who use both tobacco and alcohol.
Other risk factors that can be modified by lifestyle choices include the following:
Ultraviolet light exposure. People who spend a lot of time in the sun have a greater risk of developing lip cancer.
Poor nutrition. People whose intake of fruits and vegetables is low have a greater risk for oral and throat cancers.
Poorly fitted dentures. Dentures that rub the inside of the cheeks or the tongue can trap cancer-causing substances, such as tobacco particles. All denture wearers should remove and clean their dentures every night and have them regularly checked by a dentist.
If you find that you are at risk for oral cancer, there’s a lot you can do. Making healthy changes in your life can control some risks. You can also take steps to try to catch oral cancer in its early stages, when it is easiest to treat. Find out how you can be screened for oral cancer and how to recognize its symptoms.