At Mt. Vernon Center For Dentistry in Alexandria VA, we encourage people to come in twice a year for a dental examination and cleaning. If you steer clear of twice-yearly dental checkups because you don’t believe you have any cavities, perhaps getting an oral cancer screening is a more persuasive reason to come in.
In the last few decades, lung and breast cancer have drawn a lot of public attention. By comparison, there is less awareness of oral cancer – even though it claims almost 10,000 lives every year in the United States. If you smoke or have acquired HPV, you have an increased risk for developing oral cancer.
At Mt. Vernon Center For Dentistry, we work to broaden awareness of oral cancer and the importance of early diagnosis. Courtesy of the CDC, Oral Cancer Foundation, and Johns Hopkins Medicine, here are 5 vital things to know about oral (mouth) and oropharyngeal (back of mouth and throat) cancers.
1. About 80% of people with oral cancer use some variety of tobacco (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, pipes).
2. 40% of people who receive late-stage diagnosis of oral cancer die within five years. The survival rate for early stage diagnosis is 90%.
3. In many cases, it is almost impossible for the individual to detect oral and oropharyngeal cancers because they can produce indistinct symptoms or no symptoms at all. Any abnormality in the mouth or throat, even if small and painless, should be examined by a dentist or doctor.
4. HPV (the most frequent sexually transmitted disease in the US) is the most common cause of oropharyngeal cancer. Of the many strains of HPV, HPV16 is the one most often linked to oropharyngeal cancer.
5. Black males have a higher risk of dying from oral cancer than whites.