In 2012, an estimated 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer. By New Year’s Eve, some 8,000 people will have died 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 oral 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 oral cancer. Our Lake Forest dentist Dr. James Fondriest would like to share some facts about oral cancer and how you can help prevent it.
This is the fifth year in a row that there has been an increase in the number of new oral cancer cases. Oral 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 oral cancer 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 oral cancer screenings are recommended.
Risk Factors and Causes of Mouth Cancer
Smoking and other tobacco use—Most cases of oral cancer are linked to tobacco. Alcohol use in conjunction with tobacco use increases the risk of developing oral cancer.
Heavy alcohol use—Oral cancers are six time more common in people who consume alcohol than in teetotalers. Roughly 75 to 80 percent of people with oral cancer consume alcohol regularly.
Chronic irritation—This can be caused by rough teeth or dental work.
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.
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
One of the most important reasons to schedule a dental exam every six months is that it gives your dentist the opportunity to check your mouth for signs of oral cancer. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Fondriest, call our Lake Forest dental office at (847) 234-0517.
Our practice serves the Chicago metropolitan area including the North Shore and Northwest suburbs