Every day, there are 132 cases of oral cancer diagnosed in the United States. That’s nearly 50,000 cases a year. Answer our 10 questions to get the facts and learn more about your own risks so you can focus on prevention and early detection.
Are you at risk?
- Are you male or female?
Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer than women.
- How old are you?
Most cases are in men and women over 40, but more cases are being diagnosed in younger people, likely due to increasing risk factors.
- Do you smoke or drink?
Tobacco use is the #1 risk factor in developing oral cancer. Heavy alcohol consumption is #2 and is a very close second to tobacco. That’s more than 2 drinks a day for men, and more than 1 a day for women.
- Is there history of oral cancer in your family?
You can have a genetic predisposition to oral cancer if someone in your immediate family also was diagnosed with the disease. This includes parents, grandparents, siblings, and even your children.
- Are you overweight?
In general, there is an association between obesity and cancer.
- Do you have HPV?
The human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV, is the virus that causes cervical cancer. Genital HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S., affecting both men and women. Some high-risk HPV strains have increased risks.
- Do you have gum disease?
There is a connection between gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, and oral cancer.
- Do you have IBD?
If you have inflammatory bowel disease, like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, you could be at increased risk for oral cancer.
- Are you diabetic?
People with Type II diabetes have a higher risk for oral cancer.
- Do you get regular dental check-ups?
Detecting oral cancer early can save your life. Your dentist should screen you for oral cancer at regular visits, which should be every 6 months. If you’re not seeing your dentist regularly, you could be developing oral cancer and not know it.
What can you do?
Due to its severity, we’re vigilant about oral cancer screening, and as a result, we make it a priority at every hygiene visit. Furthermore, we look at your whole mouth — even your throat — for signs of trouble. Here’s the list of what we examine each and every time: lips, mouth, tongue, jaw, and throat.
You may notice warning signs on your own. A red, white, or discolored bump in or near your mouth is one common sign. Another is numbness in your mouth or on your tongue. If you do notice something suspicious, it’s important to contact us right away for an evaluation. If you don’t, it could cost you your life.
Learn more about warning signs risk factors, and screening for oral cancer on our website at http://harrisdmd.com/services/routine-dentistry/oral-cancer-screening/ [link].
Hence, you should discuss any concerns about your dental health with us. Join Dr. Harris as a partner in your dental health. She will help keep your mouth healthy, happy, and pain-free at every age and stage of your life. Total dental care is focused on prevention, and you play a vital role in that. Our #1 priority is to help you keep your mouth healthy for life.