Schedule Your Oral Cancer Screening Soon
- April 15, 2019
Today, more than 130 people will get news that will change their lives. They will learn that they have oral cancer. Sadder still, one person dies from this disease every hour on average, according to The Oral Cancer Foundation.
We don’t want you to be in either group, but if you ever are one of the 130, then our team at Total Dental Care wants you to find out as soon as possible. The reason is simple: early detection significantly improves your chances of successful treatment.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. You should know that we conduct oral cancer screenings as part of our professional dental cleanings and exams. It’s also why you will call 803-272-4162 to make an appointment at our Columbia, SC office soon.
It’s also why we want you to be aware of the biggest risk factors for oral cancer, so you can know how to reduce your own risk of developing this disease.
Why People Get Oral Cancer
In 90 percent of new oral cancer cases, doctors can identify the contributing factor or factors. In 3 out of 4 of these new cases, tobacco use plays a role.
You already know that tobacco products contain cancer-causing chemicals. It’s a known cause of many kinds of cancer, including mouth and throat cancer. It won’t surprise you to learn that your oral cancer risk increases the more often you use tobacco and the longer you have used those products.
Avoiding tobacco entirely is your best option. If you are a tobacco user, we encourage you to quit, although we understand this is difficult. Only about 5 percent of people who quit cold turkey have long-term success. However, you can get help by calling the South Carolina Quitline (800-QUIT NOW).
Alcohol abuse is another common risk factor. This is defined as consuming 21 or more alcoholic drinks per week. As with tobacco, avoiding alcohol entirely is a good option as far as oral cancer prevention is concerned. Heavy drinking can lead to nutritional deficiencies and can lower your body’s ability to produce antioxidants, which can be helpful in cancer prevention, according to The Oral Cancer Foundation.
At the same time, you may drink far below the abuse threshold, but if use tobacco products at the same time, you still face an increased risk. The combination of these substances can be particularly problematic.
Alcohol dehydrates the soft tissues in your mouth. This makes them more likely to absorb chemicals, including the cancer-causing kinds found in tobacco products.
One More Thing
The human papillomavirus, specifically the strain HPV-16, is another risk factor. For 99 percent of the population, this virus has no noticeable effects. But for the unlucky 1 percent, it can cause oral and other cancers.
With that in mind, you may want to talk to your physician about vaccines that can be used to stop HPV-16.
If you haven’t had a dental exam recently, we encourage you to visit Total Dental Care soon. We can conduct an oral cancer screening as part of your visit. We will let you know if we notice anything right away.