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Risk Factors for Oral Cancer You Can Control
Posted on 3/30/2020 by Aron Geelan, DMD
At your checkup you always know that they will be looking for cavities, but they also check for cancer(s) as well during those regular checkups. This is one reason to always be sure to keep up with your 6-month checkup appointments, to help with that early detection of those oral cancers, throat cancers, back of the tongue and also the tonsils.
HPV is a Factor
The ADA identifies five key factors in regard to oral cancer. The first being HPV or what is known as the Human Papilloma Virus, which is a sexually transmitted disease. This STD affects approximately 9,000 cases in the US each year. This cancer appears around the head and neck, back of the tongue and around the tonsils. The ones affected are generally younger and are nonsmokers. There is a low risk of death or even recurrence. This particular cancer is usually detected in the latter stages because it's hard to detect in the areas where it occurs.
Men Are More Susceptible The second key factor they identify as more likely to contract oral cancer is due to gender – and that gender is men. Higher rates of the oral cancers in the male population are most likely due to the fact that in males there is a higher rate of alcohol and tobacco use. The ADA warns, however that more and more young males are facing this diagnosis.
What You Consume The fourth and fifth factors that you would normally think of as number 1 and 2 are tobacco and alcohol. Regardless of if you smoke tobacco or chew tobacco your risk of contracting oral cancers increase dramatically. Of course, smoking can lead to all types of cancer. Also, most do not realize that even pipe smokers are at a significant risk of cancer development in their lips. The most dangerous, however are the smokeless tobaccos which lead to so serious cancers of the gums and cheeks and lips.
Alcohol is usually a factor in nearly 70% of oral cancer patients. Heavy drinkers are especially at risk – and if you heavily smoke and drink, your chances of cancer development increase significantly.
Dentists and the ADA strongly urge the elimination of all tobacco products to significantly reduce your risk of contracting any type of oral cancer, to be cautious of your consumption of alcohol and of course in regard to the HPV virus, exercise caution with your partners. Addressing these three factors will again reduce your risk. As to age and gender, those are not determined by choice.
If you have any concerns at all about your oral health or would like to schedule a regular checkup to be screened for oral cancers, please call the office and we will get an appointment scheduled for you as soon as possible.