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Oropharynx Cancer

Oral and pharyngeal cancers are cancers that form in tissues of the lips, mouth, tongue, salivary glands, tonsils, and pharynx.
Oral and pharyngeal cancers account for roughly 2-3 percent of all cancers newly diagnosed in the U.S. each year, and about 1% of all annual cancer deaths. About 203 new cases of oropharynx cancer were diagnosed in New Mexico year 2013.
It is estimated that over 40,000 people will be newly diagnosed with oral and pharyngeal cancers in the U.S during 2012, of which roughly 70 percent of cases will occur in males and 50 percent among persons aged 62 years and older. The remaining 50 percent of cases occur primarily in persons aged 36-61 years.
Factors that can increase a person's risk of oral and pharyngeal cancers include:
  • Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Excessive sun exposure to your lips
  • Previous cancer or radiation treatments in the head or neck area
You can learn about known and probable carcinogens from Known and Probable Human Carcinogens at www.cancer.org (external site).
There's no proven way to prevent mouth or throat cancers. However, the risk can be reduced through the following healthy habits:
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco. Using tobacco, whether smoked or chewed, exposes the cells in the mouth to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals. If you don't use tobacco, don't start. If you do smoke or use tobacco, talk to your doctor about strategies for quitting. Medications and counseling are available to help you quit.
    You can also call the 1-800-QUIT NOW (1 800-784-8669) hotline to access cessation services available to New Mexicans. Services include sessions in English or Spanish, programs for adults and youth, free cessation items and a personal quit plan.
  • Do not drink alcohol or drink in moderation, if at all. Chronic excessive alcohol use can irritate the cells in your mouth, making them vulnerable to mouth cancer. If you are a heavy drinker, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your consumption of alcohol or how to quit drinking alcohol.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. The vitamins and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of mouth cancer.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure to your lips. Wear protection such as an SPF when you are outdoors. Avoid being outdoors during when UV radiation is strongest.
  • See your dentist regularly. As part of a routine dental exam, a dentist will inspect the entire mouth for abnormal areas that may indicate precancerous changes.
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Content updated: Thu, 10 Nov 2016 08:37:23 MST