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Lip and Oral (Mouth) Cancer Risks and Prevention

Mouth cancer is highly treatable if caught early on. Getting regular dental checkups, physicals and educating yourself on the risks can help with early detection and prevention.

It is important to know if you are at high risk for mouth cancer. Studies show that a high percentage of people who develop mouth cancer:

  • Are regular tobacco users. This includes smoking and smokeless tobacco use such as snuff and chewing tobacco. 
  • Have been exposed to the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease. Although there is a stronger link between HPV and throat cancer, it is associated with mouth cancer as well.
  • Are heavy alcohol drinkers, or drink alcohol regularly.
  • Have had excessive sun exposure to the lips.
  • Have weakened immune systems. 
There are things you can do to prevent your risk of developing mouth cancer, including:
  • Abstain from tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff.
  • Limit or abstain from drinking alcohol. 
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure to your lips. Wear sunscreen and do not use tanning beds. 
  • Protect yourself from HPV by reducing your number of sexual partners and using condoms. Additionally, an HPV vaccine is now available for young women, men and adolescents. 
  • Eat a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables to help with a weakened immune system.