Did you know about 54,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year? Unfortunately, this disease kills the equivalent of one person every hour every day. Needless to say, it would be helpful to understand who is particularly at risk for this deadly form of cancer. Read on to learn more about oral cancer and why early diagnosis is so essential.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
As with many other cancers, oral cancer occurs when cells mutate and continue to grow. In this case, in the mouth or neck. Unlike other forms, the risk factors and causes for oral cancer are fairly well understood. Here are the main proven risks that can lead to cancer in the oral cavity.
For decades the dangers of tobacco products have been widely known. Whether you smoke cigarettes, use a pipe, or chew tobacco, studies have found that using these products increases the risk of oral cancer significantly. Cutting this habit out of your lifestyle can help your overall health as well as reduce the likelihood of oral cancer.
Consuming Excessive Amounts of Alcohol
Those who heavily consume alcohol are at an increased risk of developing oral cancer as well. When combined with tobacco use, the likelihood of oral cancer gets even higher. Practicing moderation with alcohol can help you keep your mouth a more hospitable environment for your oral cells.
Exposure to HPV
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that has become more and more common in recent years, and it has been directly linked to cancer, which makes regular oral cancer screenings even more important.
When people apply sunscreen, they often forget about their lips, but sun exposure can cause cancer to develop here. To avoid this, wear lip balm that contains SPF protection. Or stay in the shade or wear a wide brimmed hat that can cover your lips from the sun.
Being Male and Over the Age of 45
Men, especially those older than 45, tend to get this type of cancer more than other populations. Although your dentist checks everyone for this disease, this group seems particularly susceptible to cancers of the head and neck.
Earlier Diagnosis, Higher Survival Rate
Although medicine continues to make breakthroughs, the odds of surviving 5 years after an oral cancer diagnosis are just under 60 percent. However, when the condition is found early enough, the survival rate significantly increases.
The excellent news is that your dentist performs an oral cancer screening at every checkup appointment. This means that you are being examined at least every six months for oral cancer and are much more likely to catch the problem sooner rather than later. As a result, more oral cancer patients are able to overcome it and live healthier, longer lives!
About the Practice
At Williamsburg Dental, we are privileged to have eight qualified dentists on our staff. Each one brings unique experience and education, but they all check for the same issues at routine appointments. They also all devote ample time to continuing education so that our patients receive the best possible care. If you need to schedule a dental checkup or if you have questions about oral cancer, you can contact Williamsburg Dental online or call one of our six locations in Lincoln.