Are You At Risk For Oral Cancer?

Posted on Feb 16, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

From the mid-1970’s through 2004, the National Cancer Institute Survey cites a 15 percent increase in oral cancer rates. As research is being conducted to explain (and hopefully halt) this upward trend, findings to-date reveal some significant disparities among certain population groups.

While oral cancer rates are higher for adult men, in particular, they are especially so for Black males. Additional statistics from this decades-long study are:
•    For every 100,000 adults, 10.5 will develop oral cancer.
•    Oral cancer rates are significantly higher for males than for females.
•    Oral cancer rates are higher for Hispanic and Black males than for White males.
•    Oral cancer rates increase with age. The increase becomes more rapid after age 50 and peaks between ages 60 – 70.

When all age groups are assessed, oral cancer affects 15.7 of White males and 17.2 of Black males. The risk increases for males and females with age, with oral cancer most often occurring after age 40. However, there is a particular spike with men in the 50-59 age group with White males having 33.8 rates and Black males at 43.2.

Other risk factors for oral cancer include tobacco and alcohol use. While most cases of oral cancer are linked to cigarette smoking or heavy alcohol use, combined tobacco and alcohol use increases the risk even more.

Another risk factor is the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV).

Sun exposure is a contributing risk factor of cancer of the lip. A diet low in fruits and vegetables is suspected to also have a role in the development of oral cancer.

Early treatment is vital when it comes to oral cancer. Oral cancer is one of the deadliest of all cancers to survive and takes the life of an American adult every hour. Know the warning signs and symptoms of oral cancer, which include:
•    A sore, irritation, lump or thick patch in the mouth, lip, or throat
•    White or red patch in the mouth
•    Feeling there is something caught in the throat
•    Difficulty chewing or swallowing
•    Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
•    Having numbness in the tongue or other areas of the mouth
•    Unexplained swelling of the jaw
•    Having pain in an ear without hearing loss

When any of these symptoms are present for 10 days to 2 weeks, it is vital that you are examined immediately. While the symptoms mentioned above do not always indicate oral cancer, taking proactive measures can mean the difference between resolving the problem successfully or disfiguring surgeries, and even death.

A Periodontal specialist has extensive training in the treatment of all areas of soft tissues in the mouth. By seeing a periodontist should an unusual symptom arise, you are helping to protect your smile and your health.

Call 828-274-9440 for an examination appointment. Also, read up on risk factors at:

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