Oral cancer. It’s a terrifying subject. If it’s not detected early, treatment can involve chemotherapy or disfiguring surgery.

In the last post, we looked at some of the dangers of gum disease. But gum disease is not the only disease we check you for doing an appointment. At Plymouth Dentistry in Plymouth, MI, we check all our patients for oral cancer during all of dental exams. Today, we want to look at some of the risk factors and dangers of oral cancer.

More than 45,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer in the United States, every single year. Oral cancer kills more than 8,000 people every year. That’s a death rate of one person every hour, all throughout the day.

Only 57 percent of Americans survive oral cancer over a five year period. Americans who survive oral cancer are generally those who have it detected early. Latter-stage treatments for oral cancer and painful, and not always effective.

Who’s At Risk for Oral Cancer?

All adults carry some risk for oral cancer. This risk grows as you age, becoming significantly higher around age forty. Men are more likely to develop oral cancer than women by a two to one margin. African-Americans are at a higher risk for oral cancer than people of European, Asian, or Latin descent.

Your risk of oral cancer is higher if you smoke, or use other kinds of tobacco products. Eight out of ten people diagnosed with oral cancer were regular users of tobacco at some point during their lives. Heavier smokers and users are even more likely to develop oral cancer.

But oral cancer can also strike non-smokers, and people who never used tobacco. In general, tobacco-use has fallen in the United States; oral cancer has also have a corresponding fall in numbers. However, doctors have noticed more and more victims of oral cancer who never smoked or used other tobacco products.

Heavy drinkers and recovered alcoholics are also at a higher risk of oral cancer than the rest of the population. Around seven out of ten people diagnosed with oral cancer are considered to have been heavy drinkers during some point in their life. For men, heavy drinking is defined as more than four drinks in a day, more than three times a week. For women, the number is considered to three drinks in a day, more than twice a week.

Another leading cause of HPV infection is oral cancer. Some strains of HPV are sexually-transmitted infections. HPV infections very rarely display any symptoms in men. It is important to test for HPV infections if you are sexually active.

Detecting Oral Cancer

In the early stages of the disease, oral cancer does not always display any symptoms or cause any pain. It can be categorized as a silent-killer.

To successfully treat oral cancer, it’s important to catch it early. It is much harder to remove the cancer once it has spread beyond its original starting point. Getting screened for oral cancer ensures you able to quickly receive proper treatment.

We screen your tongue, gums, soft tissue, and other areas of your mouth for oral cancer during a dental exam. We also look for signs of precancerous conditions. This screening is quick and painless.

If you have any of the risk factors for oral cancer, you should strongly consider getting screened for the disease. We recommend have a dental exam two-times every year.

Make An Appointment

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