Top 5 risk factors for oral cancer

April 12, 2021

When you visit the dentist in Costa Rica, you can feel confident that your dentist is looking for cavities, plaque build-up and other possible dental concerns often found during routine check-ups. What you may not have known is that dentists also use routine dental visits to check for cancer at the same time.

Almost every year, more than 50,000 U.S. citizens are diagnosed with oral cancer and cancers of the throat, tonsils and back of the tongue. These are dangerous, life-threatening cancers that can often be prevented.

Regular visits to your dentist can help you detect such cancers early. Changing a few potentially harmful habits may help reduce your chances of developing these deadly cancers.

Are you at risk for oral cancer? Read this brief article about the top five factors that may put you at risk of oral cancer.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

The sexually transmitted disease is now associated with about 9,000 cases of head and neck cancer (specifically those occurring at the back of the tongue, in or around the tonsils) diagnosed each year in the United States. People who are diagnosed with HPV-related head and neck cancer tend to be younger and nonsmokers. People with HPV-positive cancers have a lower risk of death or recurrence, even though these cancers are often diagnosed at a later stage because it develops in difficult-to-detect areas.

Gender

Men are twice more likely to get oral cancer. The American Cancer Society attributes this to higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use by men. More men of a younger age are also being diagnosed with HPV-related forms of oral cancer. While men are more at risk, men who do not drink alcohol or use tobacco have reduced risk compared to women who drink alcohol and use tobacco products.

Age

Most people who are diagnosed with oral cancer are 55 or older, according to the American Cancer Society. HPV-related oral cancers, however, are often diagnosed in people who are younger. Alcohol and tobacco use often have cumulative effects over a lifetime, increasing one’s risk with every year of use.

Tobacco

Whether you smoke it or chew it, tobacco use increases your risk dramatically. Smoking can cause oral cancer, as well as cancer in other parts of the body. Pipe smokers are also at a higher risk for developing cancer in their lips. Smokeless tobacco, like chew, can lead to many issues in your mouth, the most serious being cancer of the cheeks, gums, and lips. In short, there is no safe form of tobacco.

Alcohol

According to the American Cancer Society, 7 of 10 oral cancer patients are heavy drinkers. Heavy drinking, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is an average of two drinks a day or more for men and an average of more than one drink a day for women. If you are a heavy drinker and a heavy smoker, your chances of developing oral cancer increase significantly.

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If you are concerned about your risk for oral cancer, please contact Goodness Dental for a low-cost general check-up and cleaning. During this procedure, our dentists will examine your mouth for any signs or oral cancer. It’s never too late to take better care of your mouth. Call Goodness Dental today at 866-406-2744 to learn more.

This story was sponsored by Goodness Dental.

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