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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month when healthcare professionals and organisations worldwide unite to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and prevention of oral cancer. 

Oral cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the tissues of the mouth or throat. It can occur in any part of the oral cavity, including the lips, gums, tongue, cheeks, roof and floor of the mouth. in the UK, it is estimated that around 8,300 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, and over 2,700 people die from the disease annually.

The good news is that oral cancer is highly treatable if detected early. However, many cases of oral cancer are not detected until they have already reached an advanced stage, making treatment more difficult and less successful.

That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the risk factors for oral cancer and to schedule regular screenings with your dentist or doctor. Risk factors for oral cancer include tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV), and a family history of the disease. 

During an oral cancer screening, your dentist or doctor will examine your mouth and throat for signs of cancer, such as sores, lumps, or white or red patches. They may also use special tools to look at the tissues more closely.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Oral Cancer

In addition to getting screened regularly, there are other steps you can take to reduce your risk of oral cancer. These include:

  • Quitting tobacco use

After 10 years of quitting smoking, individuals can reduce their risk of developing lung cancer by 30% to 50% compared to those who continue to smoke. Furthermore, within five years of quitting, their risk of developing oral cancer is reduced by half.

  • Reducing alcohol consumption

Consuming alcohol by itself elevates the risk of developing cancers of the mouth, throat, and voice box, while smoking also increases this risk, independent of alcohol consumption. However, the combined harmful effect of smoking and alcohol consumption is greater than the additive effect of their individual risks.

  • Using sunscreen or lip balm with SPF when spending time outdoors
  • Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Practising good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing regularly and seeing your dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups.

By raising awareness about the importance of early detection and prevention, we can help reduce the impact of oral cancer on individuals and families around the world. So this April, make sure to talk to your dentist or doctor about oral cancer screening, and encourage your friends and loved ones to do the same. Together, we can make a difference in the fight against oral cancer.

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