DHEC: Be Proactive in Preventing Oral Cancers
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is urging you to be proactive when it comes to fighting oral cancer.
DHEC estimates more than 900 people in the state will be diagnosed with oral cancers and cancers of the throat, tonsils, and back of the tongue in 2017 alone. 180 residents will die from oral cancers. These cancers are more than twice as common in men as in women. They are about equally common in African-Americans and Caucasians. Oral cancer is most commonly diagnosed in people who are 50 or older, but HPV-related oral cancers are often detected in younger people.
“Regular visits to your dentist or physician is the best method to help detect oral cancer in its early stages,” said Dr. Ray Lala, director of DHEC’s Division of Oral Health. “Oral cancer is a highly preventable disease and very treatable if caught early.”
Don’t ignore any suspicious lumps or sores that last more than two weeks. If you discover something suspicious, make a dental or medical appointment for an examination. Here are some tips from DHEC on how you can take an active role in preventing oral cancer:
- Brush and floss your teeth regularly. An unhealthy mouth reduces your immune system and obstructs your body’s ability to fight off bacteria.
- Ditch the tobacco. Whether you smoke it or chew it, your risks for cancer increases dramatically. Call the S.C. Tobacco Quitline today at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-900-784-8669). For services in Spanish, call 1-855- DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569).
- Limit your alcohol consumption. The risk of developing oral cancer increases with the amount and length of time alcohol products are used.
- Limit your sun exposure. Always use UV-A/B blocking sun protection on your lips when you are in the sun. Repeated exposure increases the risk of cancer on the lips.
- Exercise regularly. An active lifestyle can boost the immune system and help fight cancer.
- Choose cancer-fighting foods. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends eating lots of beans, berries, dark green leafy vegetables, flaxseed, garlic, grapes and tomatoes for their role in cancer prevention.
- See your dentist regularly. At least every six months, visit a dental hygienist and ask for an oral cancer screening to be done.
- Conduct self-examinations. Check the back and sides of your tongue. If you see or feel anything suspicious like lumps, bumps or tender areas, make an appointment to visit your dentist or doctor.
For more information about oral cancer, click here.