Oral cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer throughout the world, and many cases are not discovered until the disease has become advanced. HPV, genetics, and smoking are several risk factors for oral cancer that are well-known, but heavy drinking is also known to increase relative risks of this disease. This is particularly true when heavy drinking is done by individuals who are already at higher risk of oral cancer due to other factors.
Oral cancer risk is known to be increased by tobacco use, with heavier use of cigarettes or chew being associated with higher risk. While heavy drinking is recognized as an independent risk factor for the disease, the combination of heavy drinking and tobacco use causes the greatest rise in risk. In fact, some sources have estimated that individuals who use tobacco and drink heavily have as much as 100 times the risk than people who abstain.
Oral cancer encompasses cancers affecting the tongue, tonsils, lip, soft palate and floor of the mouth. Initial signs of oral cancer include swelling, discoloration and sores that remain for more than two weeks at a time. With prompt diagnosis and treatment, full recovery is more likely to happen.
At regular check-ups, our dentist examines the mouth by eye and with X-rays for signs of any oral health problems, including cancer. Patients who notice unusual symptoms in their mouth should schedule a consultation with our Houston dentist to screen for oral cancer, particularly if they have any of the risk factors mentioned here.
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