Cancer is a disease in which cells grow uncontrollably and invade and damage the surrounding tissues. Oral cancer can occur in the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, and hard palate. These cancers can be life threatening if they are not detected, diagnosed, and treated early. When you visit Lifetime Dentistry for your dental exam and cleaning, Dr. Holly Krystek will perform an oral cancer screening. These screenings will allow our dentist to diagnose oral cancer early, when it is still easy to treat.
There are many risk factors for oral cancer, including:
Gender – Men have a higher risk of oral cancer than women. In fact, twice as many men are diagnosed with oral cancer.
Age – Those above the age of 44 have a higher risk of oral cancer. The median age of oral cancer diagnosis is 62, but this could become lower because of HPV-related cases.
Alcohol – Studies have shown that 7 out of every 10 oral cancer patients are heavy drinkers. If you are a heavy drinker and a smoker, your risk for oral cancer will increase dramatically.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – This sexually transmitted disease is associated with about 10,000 cases of oropharyngeal cancer every year. This type of cancer develops in areas that are harder to observe, so it is often diagnosed at a later stage.
Tobacco Use – Smoking and chewing tobacco dramatically increases the risk of oral cancer. Smoking can cause cancer in many areas of the body, including the oral cavity. Smoking a pipe heightens the risk of cancer in the lips. Chewing tobacco can cause cancer in the cheeks, gums, and lips.
Sunlight – People whose jobs require that they work outside are more likely to develop lip cancer. They should use UV protection.
Diet – If you have poor nutrition, you may be at a higher risk of oral cancer. According to the ADA, having a diet that is low in fruits and vegetables can increase your risk of oral cancer.
Many of these risk factors are habits you can change to improve your health. Contact our dental office today to learn more about oral cancer in Muscatine, Iowa, and to schedule a visit.