Risk Factors involved in Oral Cancer
Researchers have identified some risk factors based on the people diagnosed with oral cancer, to give an idea about the risks of getting affected by such cancers. Oral Cancer is a disease of environmental factors, and like any other environmental factor, the rate of spread and/or growth of Oral Cancer depends on the dose, method, frequency of the intake of the carcinogenic compound (a compound that causes cancer). Here are the most common risk factors in the case of Oral Cancers.
- Tobacco: Tobacco is the most commonly used carcinogen. It is the main cause of oral and pharyngeal cancer. Tobacco directly damages the DNA and causes mouth and pharynx cancer. It is responsible for around 40% of total Oral Cancer cases.
- Alcohol: Excessive intake of Alcohol on a regular basis can increase the risk of being affected by oral cancers. Oral cancers occur around six times more in drinkers than non-drinkers. A 2008 study suggests that the breakdown product of alcohol, acetaldehyde, can increase the risks of oral cancers. The combination of these two increases the risk even further. According to the National Institutes of Health, nicotine, and Alcohol together serve around 80% Oral Cancer cases in males and around 65% in women.
- Human Papillomavirus: Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes human papillomavirus infection (HPV infection). Most HPV infections cause and/or show any symptoms and can be resolved in two years. However, there are some cases where it can go a little over the top and can cause precancerous lesions, which can then convert into cancer tumors. There are over 180 types of known papillomavirus, and type 16, in particular, is a known risk and independent causative factor for Oral Cancer. Of all the types, about 40 types can spread through direct sexual contact to genital areas, as well as the mouth and throat. Oral HPV infection is transmitted to mouth or throat by oral sex.
- Betel Nut: Betel Nuts are a major cause of Oral Cancer even when taken without the Tobacco. Chewing betel Nuts can increase the risk of getting Oral Cancer by 2.1 times. In India, chewing ‘paan’ or betel is a common practice, and due to that, 40% of all the cancer cases in the country are oral cancers.
- Stem Cell Transplantation: People tend to be at an increased risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma after Hematopoietic Stem Cells Transplantation (HSCT). Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation or HSCT is the transplantation of multipotent hematopoietic stem cells that are usually derived from bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood. After the transplantation, the immune system of the patient is destroyed or suppressed, which can lead to oral cancers with more aggressive behavior.
- Premalignant Lesions: The Premalignant or precancerous lesions are lesions that are benign at the beginning, and then they start to grow and cause cancer.
- Gender: Men, in general, have a higher rate of getting Oral Cancer than women. The rate in men is twice the rate in women. Also, men tend to consume more Tobacco and Alcohol than women.
- Age: Oral cancers are usually slow occurring, and they take time to grow. Due to that, these cancers are more likely to occur in people in their 40s. However, the average age of diagnosis is 60 years.
- Ultraviolet Light: Lip cancers are majorly caused in people who spend more time in the sun. Some tanning devices also use UV radiation, which can lead to Lip or Skin Cancer.
- Other risk factors: There are other, less-common risk factors, which can potentially cause Oral cancer: A weak or suppressed immune system is home to many diseases, and Oral Cancer is one of the many. Fruits and vegetables are important for the human body, and a diet with a low intake of fruits and vegetables can increase the risks of being affected. Graft-versus-host disease is a condition that can occur after stem cell transplantation, and these conditions can further lead to cancer formation.