This year, over 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or throat cancer. These cancers are known to have a higher death rate than other common cancers including testicular cancer and skin cancers. The reason the death rate for oral and throat cancers are so much higher is because oral and throat cancers are relatively painless in early stages and can go easily undetected. This allows the cancer to spread and become more aggressive. However, if caught early, the survival rate increases to 80+%.
Want to know if you’re at risk of developing oral or throat cancer? Here are the five factors that are most likely to increase your risk.
Heavy Use of Tobacco Products
Frequently smoking tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars, a pipe, and/or chewing tobacco can significantly elevate your risk of developing oral cancer.
Frequent Consumption of Alcohol
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, Alcohol abuse (more than 21 drinks in one week) is the second largest risk factor for the development of oral cancer.
Excessive Sun Exposure
In addition to increasing your risk of skin cancer, those who spend lots oftime outdoors and do not use proper protection have a greater risk of developing lip cancer.
A History of Viral Infections
Exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) is known to increase your chances of developing oral cancer.
Unfortunately, oral cancer typically affects people over the age of 40. This is usually because of their longer exposure to other risk factors listed above.
Studies have found that oral cancer affects men twice as often as it does women.
If you fall into any of the categories above, it is critical that you visit your dentist regularly as they will be able to detect the signs of oral and throat cancer early on. If you notice any of the symptoms below, contact your dentist immediately.
Symptoms to Look for:
- Oral sore or irritation that doesn’t disappear within a couple of days
- Red or white patches on the tongue cheeks or lips
- Pain, tenderness, and/or numbness in mouth or lips
- A noticeable change in your bite
- Trouble chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue. Oral and throat cancer is no laughing matter. At SDS, we proudly use the VELscope Oral Cancer Screening Microscope.
The VELscope allows us to see abnormalities in the tissues in your mouth that aren’t visible to the human eye. Call our office today at 847-893-0884 to get screened by one of our experienced dentists.