The following are the oropharyngeal cancer risk factors:
Many studies have reported that tobacco causes mouth cancer. A study reported that individuals have a ten-fold enhanced risk of oral cancer from smoking as compared to those who do not smoke. Various mechanisms through which smoking causes oral cancer include oxidative stress, a weakened immune system, and disruptive DNA mutations.
Smokeless tobacco consumption is one of the biggest oral cancer risk factors. Smokeless tobacco contains around 28 cancer-causing substances. Although snuffing and chewing tobacco may not involve inhaling smoke, the oral cavity still encounters harmful and carcinogenic substances, including nicotine. Betel quid-induced oral cancer often begins as white patches in the throat and oral cavity.
The risk of oral cancer with alcohol consumption depends on the amount of alcohol consumed. People with moderate alcohol consumption have a 1.4-fold increased risk of oral cancer, and people with excessive alcohol consumption have a 5-fold increased risk of oral cancer compared to those who do not drink. People who simultaneously smoke and drink have a 30-fold increased risk of oral cancer.
People with a family history of oral cancer have a higher possibility of developing oral cancer at an early age. This increased risk is irrespective of one’s smoking and drinking habits. Certain genetic conditions, such as Fanconi anemia and dyskeratosis congenital, also increase the risk of oral cancer.
Excessive sun exposure increases the risk of oral cancer. The most commonly affected area is the lips. People with outdoor jobs and prolonged sun exposure are at increased risk of lip cancer.
HPV infection increases the risk of oral cancer. The most common type of HPV linked to oral cancer is the HPV type 16 infection of the base of the tongue and tonsils.
Increasing age is one of the most important oral cancer risk factors. Oral cancers usually take several years to develop. Thus, they are not common among people of younger ages. In most cases, oral cancer is diagnosed in people over the age of 55. However, patients with HPV infection may also develop oral cancer below the age of 55. The age-related risk of mouth cancer should not be ignored.
Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women. This is because several risk factors are more prevalent in males than females. These include alcohol consumption, HPV infection, smoking, and chewing tobacco.
In people with poor hygiene, the bacteria grow and accumulate in the oral cavity, altering cellular characteristics. It increases the risk of oral cancer.
Studies have reported that reduced fruit and vegetable consumption is linked to an increased risk of oral cancer. Thus, people living in geographic areas with malnutrition have a higher risk of oral cancer.
The immune system targets abnormal cells in the body and prevents cancer development. Those with a compromised immune system are at increased risk of developing oral cancer.
The following are the most important oral cancer prevention measures:
One of the important strategies for primary prevention of oral cancer is quitting chewing or smoking tobacco, especially in people with simultaneous alcohol consumption. Even if the patient has been consuming tobacco for years, quitting lowers the risk of oral cancer.
Limiting the consumption of alcohol helps increase the chances of oral cancer prevention. Studies have reported that people who have not drunk for ten years but were previously consuming alcohol have a similar risk of oral cancer to people who have never consumed alcohol.
Limiting exposure to solar radiation increases the chances of oral cancer prevention, especially lip cancer. Use sunscreen and lip balm with an appropriate sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or above to avoid the harmful effects of radiation.
Erythroplakia and leukoplakia are pre-malignant conditions and should be regularly monitored. Further, maintaining good oral hygiene lowers the risk of oral cancer. Regular dental checkups can help catch oral cancer in its early stages, when it is best treated.
HPV is one of the most common causes of oral cancer. It is important to prevent the occurrence of HPV infection by receiving the HPV vaccine.
Self-examining the oral cavity is important to detect cancer early or prevent oral cancer. People should consult the doctor if they see black or white patches, ulcers that do not heal, or a lump in the oral cavity.
There are several causes of oral cancer, such as smoking and chewing tobacco, family history, alcohol consumption, HPV infection, and poor oral hygiene. The vaccine for HPV helps reduce the risk of HPV-associated oral cancers. Thus, the HPV vaccine, which is also sometimes called the oral cancer vaccine, may reduce the risk of oral cancer.
The risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma and other oral cancers include smoking, chewing tobacco, alcohol consumption, family history, poor oral hygiene, a poor diet, a compromised immune system, and family history. The measures to prevent oral cancers are quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, self-examination, dental checkups, and reducing solar exposure.