At Designer Smiles in Fargo, we urge people to come in twice a year for a dental examination and cleaning. If you skip regular checkups because you don’t think you have any cavities, maybe an oral cancer screening is a better reason.
Lung and breast cancer get a lot of attention. There is relatively less awareness of oral cancer, even though it claims almost 10,000 lives every year in the United States. If you smoke or have become infected with HPV, you have an increased risk for developing oral cancer.
Here are five critical things to know about oral (mouth) and oropharyngeal (back of mouth and throat) cancers.
- About 80% of people with oral cancer use some variety of tobacco (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, pipes).
- 40% of individuals who receive late-stage diagnosis of oral cancer pass away within five years. The survival rate for early stage diagnosis is 90%.
- In many cases, it is almost impossible for the individual to detect oral and oropharyngeal cancers because they can produce unobtrusive symptoms or no symptoms at all. Any abnormality in the mouth or throat, even if small and painless, should be checked by a dentist or doctor.
- HPV (the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US) is the most common cause of oropharyngeal cancer. Of the numerous strains of HPV, HPV16 is the one most frequently linked to oropharyngeal cancer.
- Black males have a higher risk of dying from oral cancer than whites.
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