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Oral Health

Oral Cancer

The health of your mouth involves more than just the health of your teeth and gums. Everyone knows they should brush and floss to keep their teeth for a life time. However, most people are not aware they can get cancer in and around their mouths.

You may not know that...

  • Cancers can develop on the lips, the tongue, the bones of the jaws, the floor of the mouth, the roof of the mouth, the gums around the teeth and in the back of the throat around the tonsils;
  • Lip CancerMore women die each year from oral cancer than from cervical cancer
  • More people die each year from oral cancer than from malignant melanoma
  • More than twice as many men as women get cancer of the mouth
  • Ninety percent of oral cancers occur after age 40, with the highest numbers between ages 60 and 70
  • Oral cancers rarely cause pain so they are often not found until the cancer is advanced
  • Once oral cancer has spread to another part of the body, almost half of the people affected die within 5 years

What causes oral cancerOral Cancer

Research indicates that 75% of all oral cancers are related to tobacco and alcohol use. The risk of oral cancer is 6 - 15 times greater for those who use both substances depending on amounts consumed. Recent research has shown that Human Papilloma Virus, especially serotype HPV 16 ,is a risk factor for oral cancers.

What you can do to stay healthy

Oral cancers are preventable.  Take these 6 steps to help prevent oral cancer:

  • Stop using tobacco products including cigarettes, pipes, cigars and spit tobacco
  • Limit alcohol intake, this is especially important if you also smoke or use tobacco;
  • Use a condom when engaging in sexual activity to decrease your risk of contracting HPV;
  • Get vaccinated for HPV, this vaccine is not just for girls;
  • Wear lip balm and sun screen when outdoors;
  • Have regular dental check-ups.  The few moments your dentist takes to look beyond your teeth and at the general health of your mouth could be a lifesaver.  They will identify oral cancers before they spread. Most mouth cancers can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.  If diagnosed early the survival rate increases to 80%.