1. Thickening of the Skin
Leukoplakia is the thickened, semi-white patches that develop on the insides of the cheeks, on the tongue or on the gums. They can’t be scraped or rinsed off. Although most leukoplakia patches are noncancerous, some are signs of precancerous cells. “Speckled leukoplakia” is a white and red thickened area of skin that is a sign of oral cancer and should be checked by a physician.
Preventing Oral Cancer
Preventing oral cancer starts with paying close attention to oral health by seeing a dentist regularly and keeping up with regular dental and flossing. Avoiding the use of tobacco products is important to the reduction of oral cancer risk. The following steps can also decrease the risk of oral cancer:
- It’s essential to keep lips away from sunlight. Like skin cancer, sun exposure can increase the risk of oral cancer. Limiting time out in the sun and avoiding peak hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) can keep sun exposure to a minimum. During time spent in the sun, individuals should use a lip protectant with SPF.
- HPV infections cause 70% of oral and oropharyngeal cancers. An HPV vaccine reduces the risk of oral cancer because it prevents infection by the human papillomavirus. Getting an HPV vaccine is recommended for young people 11-26 years old to keep HPV and cancer at bay.