April is Oral Cancer Awareness month and at the Clinton Township dental office of Drs. Sophia and Alex Masters, we want to make our patients aware of the risks of oral cancer, and its prevention. We certainly don’t want to scare anyone, but like any other type of cancer, information and early detection are important. The American Cancer Society (ACS, revised 02.26.2013) states that nearly 35,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with an oral cancer this year, and it’s important to detect it early.
What Should I Know About Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer falls under the category of head and neck cancers. It is a cancer that involves the tissues inside your mouth, and portions of the tongue, throat.
You can probably guess the most important thing that increases your risk of oral cancer. People who use tobacco and/or abuse alcohol have a 300 times higher risk of oral cancer than other people (Source: National Institutes of Health, 2006). The risk increases with the number of years that you’ve smoked or used tobacco and how much you use on a daily basis. The risk from alcohol increases with the number of drinks you have on a weekly basis.
HPV and Oral Cancer
A more recent, but increasing risk factor for oral cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV). You may have heard about HPV in the media and know it’s a sexually transmitted virus. Depending on which type of HPV virus someone has, it can cause genital cancers, as well as genital warts. It can also cause oral cancer. If you know you have HPV or are concerned about it, talk to your doctor and also talk to us if you feel comfortable doing so. Anything you say to us will be in the strictest confidence.
We check for oral cancer during our comprehensive exams. Oral cancer isn’t difficult to diagnose, but if not diagnosed early, then it can spread to other parts of the body, especially via the lymph nodes in your neck.
Our philosophy is health-centered dental care. That means we’re concerned about your overall health as well as your dental health, and how the two are connected. Please call our Clinton Township dental office at 586.463.8635 to make an appointment, especially if you haven’t visited us for a while!