August 18, 2015
Oral cancer is a pretty scary subject. Treating it can require disfiguring surgery or chemotherapy.
In our last blog post, we discussed some of the dangers of gum disease with you. Sadly, gum disease is not the only disease we have to screen for. At the office of Thomas J. Feder, DDS, PC in Belleville, IL, we screen all our patients for oral cancer during every routine appointment. In today’s post, we’re going to share some information about oral cancer.
Around 45,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year. Oral cancer is a fatal illness more than 8,000 people every year. It kills one person per hour, every hour of the day.
For Americans newly diagnosed with oral cancer, the survival rate over five years is about 57 percent. Which means that around 43 percent of diagnosed individuals will die from oral cancer. This death rate is high because the cancer is often discovered in its later stages.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
Oral Cancer can occur in all adults, especially as they get older. Oral cancer has a higher prevalence rate in men than in women (two to one); and in African-Americans than in other races.
Oral cancer is often associated with smoking, and other use of tobacco products. Around 80 percent of all people diagnosed with oral cancer have regularly used tobacco products in their life time. The longer period of time you use tobacco products, the more likely you are to develop oral cancer.
However, oral cancer can also affect people who have never smoked. As tobacco-usage rates have fallen among the population; the rate of oral cancer has also fallen. But the rate of oral cancer has not diminished as quickly as the decline of smoking. The rate of diagnosis of non-smokers with oral cancer seems to be growing.
Oral cancer also affects heavy drinkers at a disproportionately high rate. Around 70 percent of people diagnosed with oral cancer are medically-classified as heavy drinkers. There are varying classifications for heavy drinkers; generally men are considered to be heavy-drinkers if they consume more than four alcoholic beverages in a day, or fourteen in a week. Women are considered to be heavy drinkers if they drink more than three alcoholic beverages in a day, or seven in a week.
Oral cancer caused by an HPV infection is on the rise. Certain HPV infections can be transmitted through sexual contact. If you are sexually active, you should consider being screened for both HPV infection and oral cancer. HPV infections often display no symptoms, so testing is key.
Screening for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer often goes unnoticed by patients in its early stages. It may not produce any pain or any symptoms.
It’s much easier to treat oral cancer before the cancer spreads or develops. If detected early, the cancer and/or lesions can be safely removed in most cases. This makes screenings for oral cancer vital.
During an oral cancer screening, we will examine your tongue, gums, and soft tissue for signs of cancer and/or precancerous conditions. We do this to attempt and identify oral cancer during its early stages.
You do not need to do anything to prepare for an oral cancer screening. We perform this screening during all routine dental appointments.
Make An Appointment
Don’t risk it. You should be screened for oral cancer every six months. Click here to make an appointment at the office of Thomas J. Feder, DDS, PC in Belleville, IL.