Protect Yourself From Oral Cancer

Worldwide oral cancer rates are skyrocketing just as they are in the United States. In the year 1981 the U.S. saw 10,000 deaths from oral cancers. In 2011, over 37,000 people developed oral cancers and about 8,000 died. This means the death rate from oral cancer are higher than those from melanoma, thyroid cancer and Hodgkins lymphoma. How can you protect yourself?

Usually oral cancer stays under the radar unless a celebrity is diagnosed. One reason the death rate for oral cancers is so high is that most patients are not diagnosed until the cancer has spread. Oral cancers are usually painless and people are not able to scan themselves as they do for skin cancers or even self-checks for breast cancer.

Know the risks and get checked.

Risk factors  include a history of smoking and drinking alcohol. Oral cancers used to be found mainly in older men who smoked and drank. Increasingly, infection with the HPV virus is a major risk factor, causing a surge in oral cancer cases among younger people. There may also be a genetic predisposition for oral cancers.

Regular screening for oral cancers is extremely important. Cure rates are much higher when the disease is discovered early. Regular routine dental examinations will provide you  peace of mind – when the dentist palpates the soft tissues of your mouth they are actually looking for signs of oral cancers, this goes along with a visual check for signs of disease. Cone beam CT scans can be used to diagnose tumors in the bone that cannot be seen on regular x-rays. Your dentist may suggest additional screening using special technology that can illuminate suspect lesions.

Protect yourself by not smoking or using smokeless tobacco products, avoid excessive alcohol use and stick to a healthy diet.  Research has shown that a diet high in fruits and vegetables can help protect against oral cancers.

Schedule your routine dental checkup and receive your oral cancer screening by contacting Clyde, NC cosmetic dentist Dr. John Highsmith today at 828-627-9282.

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Posted in: Oral Health

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