Though oral cancer has affected millions of people throughout history—including figures like Sigmund Freud, Babe Ruth, and George Harrison from the Beatles—public awareness of the issue is still relatively low. It is so important to raise awareness, however, because regular screenings can help patients to detect and get treatment for this illness. It could even possibly save your life! Here are a few things every patient should know about this disease in order to protect their health.
1. It is more common than you might think.
Unfortunately, oral cancer is more common than you may realize. In the United States alone, researchers believe there will be an estimated 53,000 people diagnosed with oral cancer in 2019. As a result, an estimated 11,000 people could die to oral cancer this year. This is one of the many reasons it is so important to learn about this highly treatable disease.
2. Alcohol and tobacco usage increase your risk for oral cancer.
Studies have shown that 90% of people who are diagnosed with oral cancer use some form of tobacco product—such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or cigars. In fact, they are six times more likely to develop oral cancer over nonsmokers. Heavy drinking also increases this risk of oral cancer—the more you drink, the higher the risk.
3. Oral cancer can actually occur anywhere in the mouth.
Oral cancer is more wide-reaching than you may think. Cancer of the mouth can affect anything from the lips, tongue, and throat, to your pharynx, salivary glands, or sinuses. No matter what part of the body is affected, it is critical to detect the cancer as early as possible.
4. There are a number of risk factors for oral cancer.
There are a number of factors that could increase a patient’s risk for oral cancer. As mentioned above, heavy drinking and tobacco usage can increase your risk. However, sun exposure, poor nutrition, and age (especially if you’re over 40) can also play a role. Therefore, if you think you could be at greater risk of oral cancer, regular check-ups are critical to early detection and treatment!
5. Oral cancer screenings are quick and easy!
The best way to detect and treat this disease is by seeing your dentist every six months as recommended by the American Dental Association. During these check-ups, your dentist can quickly look for signs of the disease by visually checking your lips and face, as well as palpating the neck and jaw. This quick and painless screening could potentially save your life!
To schedule your next dentist appointment for a routine teeth cleaning, check-up, and oral cancer screening, call Carillon Family Dental in Romeoville today!