Oral cancer is responsible for a large number of deaths in African American men

By:Taren Vaughan

Out of all the many forms of cancer, there are those that are mentioned quite frequently. Lung and breast cancer are highly recognized due to the fact that they claim the lives of thousands of people every year. For men, especially those of African American descent, colon and prostate cancer are two types of cancer that heavily affect them. However, there is one form of cancer that is just as harmful to our black men.

Over the years, the cases of oral cancer have increased drastically. African American men have been documented as the ethnic group that is most affected by oral cancer. As for African Americans as a whole, the survival rate for those who develop oral cancer is 34% compared to Caucasian Americans whose survival rate goes well beyond 50%.

Why have these numbers in blacks taken a turn for the worst?

We continue to engage in activities that lead to oral cancer. One of the main causes of the disease is smoking. Whether it is smoking cigarettes, cigars or smoking out of a pipe, all of these things can contribute to one’s development of oral cancer. Further research has even found that HPV-16 is linked to cases of oral cancer in younger generations. HPV-16, a potentially harmful strain of human papilloma virus, is usually transmitted through sexual activity. Therefore, practicing safe sex can prevent a person from developing oral cancer.

Although oral cancer is not 100% preventable, there are ways to lower your chances of getting it. The obvious habit to cut out is smoking. Smoking can not only lead to oral cancer. But it can also lead to the development of lung cancer as well. Staying away from products like snuff, dip and chewing tobacco can also help a person stay free from oral cancer. Good oral hygiene is essential in oral cancer prevention. Make sure you don’t skip those annual dentist appointments. Taking care of your mouth is just as important as taking care of the rest of your body.

Even though oral cancer is not as prevalent as other forms of cancer, it should not be taken lightly. It can result in the removal of your tongue, teeth, multiple facial surgeries and worst of all, it could potentially spread to other organs causing some serious damage. So before you pick up a “cancer stick” or dip into your stash of chewing tobacco, think about the risks associated with it.

Sources: OralCancerFoundation & Gainformer
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