Oral Cancer Rates are Rising

In 2012, an estimated 40,000 Americans were diagnosed with oral cancer. Approximately 8,000 people will die this year from cancer of the tongue, mouth, and throat, according to a report published by the American Cancer Society. While doctors aren’t certain why one person will get mouth cancer and another won’t, there are several risk factors for developing the deadly disease, and by modifying some risky behaviors, you can reduce your chances of developing cancer of the mouth. Dr. James Fondriest would like to share some facts about oral cancer and how you can help prevent it.

When you think of preventing dental issues through regular exams and cleanings, the issues that come to mind may most likely be tooth decay and gum disease. However, your routine preventive visits also include a vitally important screening for oral cancer.  Though oral cancer is one of the most dangerous types of cancer, it is similar to more common dental issues in the fact that it is most successfully treated when detected and addressed early. This makes regular checkups and cleanings all the more important.

About Cancer of the Mouth 

Mouth cancer encompasses a number of more specific cancers that affect your oral and throat tissues, including cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and more. While there is no known direct cause for any type of cancer, certain things can influence your risks of oral cancer, including the use of smoking and smokeless tobacco and excessive consumption of alcohol. By avoiding these habits and maintaining a consistent schedule of preventive dental care, you can reduce your risks of developing most types of oral cancer.

This is the fifth year in a row that there has been an increase in the number of new oral cancer cases. Mouth cancer is a malignant, abnormal growth of cells in the oral cavity, lips, or throat. An estimated seven percent of new cases will have no known cause, but it is commonly attributed to tobacco use and human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease. Early detection and treatment of oral cancer greatly improves a patient’s chance of survival, so risk-reduction practices and frequent cancer screenings are recommended.

The Value of Early Detection

Oral cancer often has one of the highest mortality rates, sometimes hovering around 40-50%. However, when it is detected early, the survival rate among those diagnosed jumps to almost 90%. Therefore, your dentist will perform a comprehensive screening during every checkup and cleaning appointment to check for signs such as lumps, sores, blisters, discolored patches of oral tissues, swollen glands, and more that could indicate cancer of the mouth.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

  • Sore or lump in the mouth
  • Chewing problems
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Red, white, or red and white patches in the mouth

Risk Factors and Causes of Mouth Cancer

Smoking and other tobacco use—Most cases of cancer of the mouth are linked to tobacco. Alcohol use in conjunction with tobacco use increases the risk.

Heavy alcohol use—Mouth cancers are six time more common in people who consume alcohol than in teetotalers. Roughly 75 to 80 percent of people with cancer consume alcohol regularly.

Chronic irritation—This can be caused by rough teeth, dental work, or viral infections. simple herpetic cold sores are unlikely to cause cancer.

HPV—This sexually-transmitted disease affects about seven percent of Americans, and men are three times more likely to have HPV than women. An increase in the number of HPV cases could account for why oral cancer rates are on the rise, despite a decrease in the number of smokers.

Learn More About Early Oral Cancer Detection

Through routine checkup and cleaning appointments, you have a greater chance of early detection and successful treatment of cancer. To learn more, call Lake Forest Dental Arts in Lake Forest, IL, today at 847-234-0517. We also proudly serve residents of Chicago and all surrounding communities.

Our practice serves the Chicago metropolitan area including the North Shore and Northwest suburbs