April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, the perfect time to focus on preventative measures you can take to help aid in early detection and treatment. Oral and pharyngeal cancer (cancer of the mouth and upper throat) collectively kill nearly one person every hour of every day of the year. Those who survive may suffer long-term health concerns such as facial disfigurement and possible difficulties eating and speaking. Consider these top concerns to aid in determining your risk. Thank you to our friends at the American Dental Association for this very important information!
Men are two times more likely to get oral cancer. The American Cancer Society attributes this to higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use by men but notes more men of a younger age are being diagnosed with HPV-related forms of oral cancer.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
According to the CDC, HPV is now associated with about 9,000 cases of head and neck cancer (specifically those occurring at the back of the tongue, in or around the tonsils) diagnosed each year in the United States. These cancers are often diagnosed at a later stage because it develops in difficult-to-detect areas. People with HPV-positive head and neck cancers tend to be younger, nonsmokers, and have a lower risk of death or recurrence.
Most people who are diagnosed with oral cancer are 55 or older, according to the American Cancer Society. HPV-related oral cancers, however, are often diagnosed in people who are younger.
Tobacco use greatly increases your risk.
- Smoking can cause oral cancer, as well as cancer in other parts of the body.
- Pipe smokers are also at a higher risk for developing cancer in their lips.
- Smokeless tobacco (chew) can lead to many issues including cancer of the cheeks, gums, and lips.
According to the American Cancer Society, 7 of 10 oral cancer patients are heavy drinkers, defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as averaging two drinks or more a day (men) and more than one drink a day (women).
We perform oral cancer screenings during your normal six-month dental checkup. If it’s been a while since your last visit, make sure to schedule a check-up by calling us at 248-854-3130 to support your dental as well as your oral health. Oral cancer awareness and early detection is key!