Did you know that April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month? Did you also know that nearly 48,250 Americans are diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer per year? Oral cancer can affect several areas of the mouth, including the tongue, floor of the mouth, tonsils, lips, and roof of the mouth. What makes oral cancer especially harmful is its proximity to the brain. Studies show that this disease causes nearly 9, 575 deaths per year, killing approximately one person per hour.
Statistics aside, there are several steps you can take to prevent the development of this harmful cancer. For one, avoid the substances and lifestyle choices that increase your risk for oral cancer. Some of the most common causes for this disease include:
• Tobacco & Alcohol Use: Most cases of oral cancer are linked to smoking/chewing tobacco and heavy alcohol use. Additionally, using both tobacco and alcohol together poses a much greater risk than using either substance alone.
• HPV: Infection with the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (specifically the HPV 16 type) has been linked to a subset of oral cancers.
• Age: Your risk for oral cancer increases with age. Oral cancer most often occurs in people over the age of 40.
• Sun Exposure: Cancer of the lip can be caused by sun exposure.
• Diet: A diet low in fruits and vegetables may play a role in oral cancer development.
Oral cancer has one of the highest cancer death rates, but you don’t have to become another statistic when you make healthy lifestyle choices and regularly visit our office for an oral cancer screening. Feel free to call our dental team today if you want to learn more about oral cancer and how to prevent it.