The staff of the Placerville Dental Group cares about your health. One major form of disease often diagnosed first by dentists is oral cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015 over 45,000 Americans were diagnosed with oral cancer and almost nine thousand died of the disease. Early detection and diagnosis is important, as twice as many patients survive if the cancer is found in its earliest stages. Our Placerville dentists screen you carefully during every visit to identify suspect tissues in the mouth and throat. Nevertheless, although detection is important, the best defense against oral cancer is avoiding the risk factors by making healthy choices.
What Increases the Oral Cancer Risk?
Men over the age of forty have the highest oral cancer risk. Men who smoke or use tobacco increase their oral cancer risk. Women are less likely to develop oral cancer, but they are not immune.
You may have a greater risk of developing oral cancer if you:
- use tobacco in any form;
- frequently consume alcohol;
- have had a HPV infection;
- eat a diet lacking in vegetables and fruits;
- are exposed to a lot of sun without protection (leading to lip cancer).
Both tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption in themselves are risk factors for many health concerns. Infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) is also predominant in a specific form of oral cancer and nearly 70% of oral cancers (especially those affecting the throat, back of the tongue, tonsils and soft palate) contain HPV. HPV is transmitted both with and without sexual contact, but eighty percent of sexually active people are infected with at least one form of HPV. Taking precautions against sexually transmitted disease is the best way to reduce contracting HPV. Unfortunately, unprotected sexual activity tends to be found with alcohol use, once again combining risk factors exponentially.
How to Reduce Oral Cancer Risk
“Quitting tobacco and limiting alcohol use sharply reduce the risk of developing oral cancer, even after many years of use.” — American Cancer Society
If you believe you have any of the symptoms of oral cancer, please arrange a consultation with one of our Placerville dentists as soon as possible. If you are concerned about your oral cancer risk, ask about oral cancer screening procedures whenever you have a dental exam. Remember that while the Placerville Dental Group can help diagnose and treat oral cancers, the best “cure” for cancer is prevention!