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Cancer of the Mouth and Throat (cont.)

Mouth and Throat Cancer Prevention

The best way to prevent head and neck cancer is to avoid the risk factors.

  • If the patient uses tobacco, he or she should quit. Substituting "smokeless" tobacco for smoking is not advised. Pipe and cigar smoking are not safer than cigarette smoking.
  • If the patient drinks alcohol, he or she should do so in moderation. The patient should not use both tobacco and alcohol.
  • If the patient works outdoors or is otherwise frequently exposed to sunlight (ultraviolet radiation), he or she should wear protective clothing that blocks the sun. Sunscreen should be applied to the face (including a lip balm with sunscreen) and the patient should wear a wide-brimmed hat any time he or she is outdoors.
  • Sources of oral irritation, such as ill-fitting dentures, should be avoided. If the patient wears dentures, he or she should remove and clean them every day. A dentist should check their fit regularly.
  • The patient should eat a balanced diet to avoid vitamin and other nutritional deficiencies. He or she should make sure to eat foods with plenty of vitamin A, including fruits, vegetables, and supplemented dairy products.

    The patient should not take very high doses of vitamin A supplements, which may actually be harmful.

The patient should ask his or her dentist or primary care professional to check their oral cavity and pharynx regularly to look for precancerous lesions and other abnormalities. The patient should report any symptoms such as persistent pain, hoarseness, bleeding, or difficulty swallowing.

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

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Approximately 90% of oral cancers are squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which is seen in older men, typically on the lip or lateral part of the tongue.

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