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Oral Cancer In Men

A study by Cancer Research UK found that the number of men contracting oral cancer outnumbered women by 2 to 1. Two US studies came to the same conclusion, cases in American men were twice as high.

Research in mainland Europe has brought similar results, with the only remaining question being why such a notable difference exists.

Inherited mutations in certain genes can predispose people to oral cancers but there is no evidence of them being more common in men. The rational answer is higher incidence for behavioural reasons.

Alcohol and Tobacco

The constituents of tobacco, whether smoked, or chewed are carcinogenic and are the number one cause of oral cancers across the globe.

Around 70% of male oral cancers in the UK are linked to tobacco smoking. More men smoke than women and are likely to be heavier smokers.

Alcohol is not a leading cause in moderate amounts but can be when used excessively. A combination of higher alcohol intake and tobacco use is known to multiply the risk of oral cancers.

Oral Hygiene

More research is needed but studies to date have suggested direct links between oral hygiene standards and cancer, due to bacterial changes which aid the carginogenic potential of other factors.

The chance of developing periodontal disease is also increased by poor hygiene. Apart from being linked to heart disease and diabetes, periodontitis is significantly higher in those who develop oral cancer.

A potential for mixed causes makes the direct role of periodontal issues hard to assess. We do however know the disease is almost twice as common in men, mainly because they exercise less care over oral hygiene.

Other Factors

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection can cause oral cancers. Whilst this applies to men and women, men are more likely to have a higher number of sexual partners and act less safely.

Oral cancer includes the lips and a primary cause of this is exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Men are less likely to use sun protection than women and again, behave less safely.

Being significantly overweight can play a part in most cancers and men are more likely to be overweight. They are also less likely to eat a nutritious diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, which can have a protective effect.

Dealing With Reality

We have lambasted men in general, without allowing for the social and cultural norms which contribute to behaviour and higher levels of oral cancer.

Rather than judge, we wish to get across the message that early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment. Early stage, long term oral cancer survival is around 75%, for late stage cases, around 25%.

The tongue and tonsils are prime areas of concern, although oral cancer can strike anywhere in the mouth, jaw or neck. Regular professional checks and self examination are essential.

Look for ulcers in the mouth that do not heal, lumps or swelling anywhere in your mouth, jaw or neck, red or white patches in the oral area, numbness, a chronic sore throat, or unexplained tooth loss.

They can arise for a range of medical reasons but deserve to be closely checked, by an experienced professional.

Oral & Maxillofacial Care

Maxillofacial specialists are qualified as doctors and dentists, giving them wider medical insight. They are also aware of the rise in oral cancers the UK has seen in the last decade.

Their vigilance means that carefully checking for symptoms and looking deeper can arise as part of other treatment. Where you report a specific concern, they will thoroughly investigate.

Other treatable causes will often be found and where an oral cancer is the cause, immediate support is available. Successfully treating oral conditions comes from knowledge and speed of action.