5 causes of mouth cancer and tips to prevent it

Mouth cancer is a type of cancer that develops in any of the parts that make up the mouth (oral cavity). Here are 5 "S" causes of mouth cancer and how to prevent it from developing.
Oral cancer prevention
Avoid lifestyle habits that can increase risk of oral cancer. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Vimal Arora Published: 21 May 2023, 14:00 pm IST
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Mouth cancer can be a devastating disease that significantly affects a person’s quality of life. Unfortunately, these types of cancers are on the rise, and the biggest risk factors are alcohol and cigarette use. However, not only smokers but also people who drink alcohol are at a risk of developing mouth cancer. Apart from this, research suggests that the human papillomavirus (HPV) is also one of the main causes of mouth cancer.

Since prevention is better than cure, maintaining appropriate oral hygiene practices such as consistent brushing, flossing, and mouthwash use, is essential for preventing the onset of oral cancer. To reduce the chance of getting oral cancer, it is also essential to refrain from using tobacco and consume alcohol in moderation. Consider getting vaccinated against HPV, which is a major risk factor for some types of mouth and neck cancer.

Causes of mouth cancer

Mouth cancer is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that can arise due to various factors. To reduce the risk of developing mouth cancer, it is recommended to adopt a healthy lifestyle and take preventative measures. Here are five important factors that can contribute to the development of mouth cancer, commonly known as the “5 S”:

1. Sharp teeth: This refers to teeth that are jagged or broken, which can irritate the inside of the mouth.

2. Smoking: Tobacco use, including cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco, is a major risk factor for oral cancer. The chemicals in tobacco can damage the cells in the mouth and throat, increasing the risk of cancer.

causes of mouth cancer
Smoking can cause mouth cancer. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Spices: Some spices, particularly those used in certain types of cuisine (such as Indian and Southeast Asian food), have been linked to a higher risk of mouth cancer.

4. Sex: Certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which are transmitted through sexual contact, can cause oral cancer. This risk is higher for people who have multiple sexual partners or engage in oral sex.

5. Spirit: Drinking alcohol excessively and frequently can increase the risk of oral cancer. Alcohol can damage the cells in the mouth and throat and weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off cancerous growths.

It’s important to note that not everyone who is exposed to these factors will develop cancer. Regular screening and early detection can improve the chances of successful treatment and recovery.

Prevention of mouth and neck cancer

Several measures can be taken to reduce the risk of developing mouth and neck cancer:

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1. Avoid tobacco

Tobacco is the leading cause of mouth and neck cancer, so avoiding all forms, including smoking and chewing tobacco, can significantly reduce your risk.

2. Limit alcohol consumption

Drinking alcohol in excess is also a significant risk factor for mouth and neck cancer, so it’s essential to limit your alcohol intake.

causes of mouth cancer
Alcohol will increase your risk of getting Cancer. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Eat a healthy diet

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of mouth and neck cancer.

Also read: Know how to prevent these 5 common oral health problems

4. Practise good oral hygiene

Regular brushing and flossing can help you maintain oral hygiene and reduce bacterial growth. This in turn can prevent oral cancer.

5. Protect yourself from the sun

Use sunscreen and wear a hat to protect your neck and face from the harmful effects of the sun.

6. Get vaccinated

The HPV vaccine can prevent certain types of mouth and neck cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

vaccines for women
HPV cancer vaccine is a must for women. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

7. Go for regular dental checkups

Regular dental checkups can help identify any early signs of mouth and neck cancer, improving the chances of successful treatment.

How is oral cancer treated?

The most common initial treatment for oral cancer is surgery. The affected areas of the mouth may need to be removed, depending on the severity and spread of the cancer. Reconstructive surgery could occasionally be required to make up for the cosmetic or functional deficiencies brought on by cancer. Depending on the severity of the disease at the start of treatment, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy may be advised after surgery in more advanced stages.

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About the Author

Lt General, Chief Clinical Officer- Clove Dental ...Read More

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