You may have noticed that your dentist checks for more than just cavities during your dental exam. This includes an oral cancer screening. In 2019, about 53,000 people in America will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer. Sadly, approximately one person every hour each day dies due to these cancers, and 40% of the individuals newly diagnosed with oral and oropharyngeal cancer do not survive longer than 5 years. This notably high death rate is is mainly caused by late diagnoses of these cancer! Fortunately, when these cancers are found and treated early, the death rate and other health complications become less common.That's why this Oral Cancer Awareness month we are spreading the word that early detection saves lives! Luckily, maintaining your regular dental visits can help inform you of any harmful developments and cancers early, and keep your oral and overall health in check. Take a look at the common risk factors of oral and oropharyngeal factors and how you can lower your risk:
There are several factors that may influence the development of oral cancer. There has been a lot of research showing that heavy alcohol and tobacco users who are middle aged often present with oral cancers, but there is a current shift to younger individuals who are developing oral cancers due to the rise of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus 16 (HPV).
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
The CDC reports that there have been approximately 9,000 cases of head and neck cancer associated with HPV each year in America. Most of the cancers associated with this sexually transmitted disease occur at the back of the tongue or around the tonsils, with a majority of the cases being found in younger nonsmoking individuals. The death rate and chance of it reoccuring is often low, but detection is often late.
The signs of HPV-realted cancers often present as a painless swelling in the neck area, sore throat, trouble or pain when swallowing, ulcerations, and/or swelling in the tonsillar area that last for longer than 2-3 weeks.
Oral cancers are two times more prevalent in men than women.
HPV related oral and oropharyngeal cancers are often seen in younger individuals, while a majority of cancers associated with other factors tend to be found in individuals aged 50 years or older.
Tobacco in any form creates a higher risk for developing oral cancers, in addition to cancers found throughout the body. Individuals who use a pipe to smoke often develop cancer of the lips. Chewing tobacco can cause several problems in the oral cavity even in addition to cancer.
Alcohol is a significant risk factor for the development of oral cancer. The American Cancer Society states that 7 out of 10 oral cancer patients are heavy drinkers (An average of two drinks a day for men, and more than one drink a day for women). Smoking in combination with drinking also increases your risk significantly higher.
Be attentive to any signs or symptoms that appear abnormal to you and make sure you are regularly visiting your dentist and health care professional.
Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or email@example.com to set up an appointment and consultation.
Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. Derek. Dr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Stephens would be more than willing to help.