Statistics show that 30,000 – 50,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with some form of oral cancer. It has also been cited that only about ½ will survive longer than five years. That is unfortunate considering that there is an 80 – 90 percent survival rate when the cancer is caught early!
Oral cancer can invade any part of the oral cavity including lips, cheek, tongue, gums, throat, tonsils and palate. Early detection of oral cancer can improve the chance of successful treatment. It cannot be stressed enough, the importance of your dentist or hygienist performing an oral cancer screening on at least an annual basis. An oral cancer screening takes only a few minutes.
The ADA News announced that April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. The American Dental Association has a website, MouthHealthy.org that provides information for patients about oral
There are risk factors associated with oral cancers. The American Cancer Society says that men have a higher occurrence of oral cancer, attributed to higher usage of alcohol and tobacco. Oral cancer is more prevalent in patients 55 years and older, except in the cases of HPV-related oral cancers which occur at an earlier age.
Smoking cigarettes/pipes or chewing tobacco increases the risk of oral cancer significantly.
Smoking also increases the risk of cancer in other parts of the body as well.
According to the American Cancer Society, eight out of ten patients with oral cancer are heavy drinkers. Heavy drinking as defined by the American Center for Disease Control is two or more drinks per day for men and one or more drinks per day for women. If a patient smokes and drinks heavily, the risk is even more significant.
The human papilloma virus (HPV) is now associated with cancers of the head and neck. These cancers are found predominately in younger, non-smoking patients.
The sun is a contributing factor in oral cancer of the lips. Using a sunscreen in a lip balm can help. Believe it or not, a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables can also be a contributing factor!
Eliminating these factors can help patients to avoid oral cancers. If your dentist does not provide an oral cancer screening at your visit, ASK! It could save your life!