Tooth decay and gum disease are the oral issues that get the most attention – but it’s crucial that we acknowledge other problems that take hold in our mouths. Oral cancer is not one of the most-discussed cancers, but that doesn’t make it any less important. About 125 people are diagnosed with oral cancer in the US every day. While the modern capabilities of medical technology and nutrition have helped put oral cancer on the decline, the rise of the HPV virus has led to an increase in cases. This means that the fastest-growing group of oral cancer patients is one of young, otherwise healthy nonsmokers, who have no reason to expect oral cancer to arise.
How can you be sure that your oral tissues are cancer-free? Scheduling regular dental exams is a great start. By visiting the dentist every six months, you give us a chance to examine your mouth for signs of disease. We’ll note anything that looks out of the ordinary, and recommend steps to get it checked out and make sure everything’s benign. Set up your next exam today – and get acquainted with oral cancer facts to be sure that you’re aware of your personal risk.
Where Does Oral Cancer Develop?
There is a high mortality rate for oral cancer because it is commonly detected at an advanced stage. This is one reason why regular screenings are key – those with early detection have an 80-90% chance of surviving the next 5 years, whereas late detection sees those rates go down to 25-30%.
Oral cancer develops in different areas of the mouth and throat, including the
- Front 2/3 of the tongue
- Inside of the cheeks
- Roof of the mouth
- Bottom of the mouth, below the tongue
- Area behind your wisdom teeth
Am I At Risk for Oral Cancer?
Certain risk factors increase your chances of developing oral cancer. These include:
- Sustained tobacco use
- Sustained alcohol use
- Being over 55
- Gender (men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer, but this may be linked to tobacco/alcohol use)
If you ever think that something in your mouth may be changing, get in touch to find answers to your questions.