Dental Checkups Are Not Just About Cavities
At William J. Stewart Jr. DDS, we urge people to come in twice a year for a dental examination and cleaning. If you avoid semiannual dental checkups because you don’t believe you have any dental caries, perhaps getting an oral cancer screening is a more convincing reason to see your dentist regularly. (While your dentist is checking for oral cancer, we urge you to have a thorough dental examination as well!)
In the last few decades, lung and breast cancer have attracted a lot of public attention. Overall, we’re less aware 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 William J. Stewart Jr. DDS, we work to raise awareness of oral cancer and the significance of early diagnosis. Courtesy of the CDC, Oral Cancer Foundation, and Johns Hopkins Medicine, here are 5 essential things to know about oral (mouth) and oropharyngeal (back of mouth and throat) cancers.
1. About 80% of men and women with oral cancer use some kind of tobacco (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, pipes).
2. 40% of men and women who receive late-stage diagnosis of oral cancer pass away within five years. The survival rate for early stage diagnosis is 90%.
3. In many cases, it is extremely challenging 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 evaluated by a dentist or doctor.
4. HPV (the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US) is the most common cause of oropharyngeal cancer. Of the copious strains of HPV, HPV16 is the one most repeatedly linked to oropharyngeal cancer.
5. Black males have a higher risk of dying from oral cancer than whites.