April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and was established to make people aware of the seriousness of the disease and the need for routine screenings by the Novato family dentist.
While oral cancer makes up only a small portion of annual cancer cases, it is still a serious problem. When oral cancer is diagnosed in the early stages of development, patients have a significantly improved survival rate — up to 80% after five years.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
You can’t change the following risk factors, but the Novato family dentist knows that awareness raises your vigilance so potential problems can be addressed early when treatment options and positive outcomes are greatest.
Aging – More than 90% of all oral cancers occur in individuals over 40. However, the incidence among younger people has been on the uptick recently, perhaps related to lifestyle behaviors.
Race – African-Americans have a higher incidence of oral cancer than Caucasians.
The following are risk factors that you can and should address:
- Smoking and chewing tobacco – Smokers are at five to nine times greater risk of developing oral cancer
- Alcohol – Moderate to heavy drinkers are at three to nine times higher risk; the higher the alcohol content, the greater the risk
- Diet – A high intake of fruits/vegetables, which are high in antioxidants, has been found to have a protective effect against a variety of cancers, including oral.
- Chronic sun exposure – Often connected with lip cancers.
As part of your routine oral hygiene, you should carefully monitor any changes in your mouth that don’t diminish in a few days, e.g., ulcers, sores, or white or red patches on the tongue. We care about your overall wellness, so our dentist always performs an oral cancer screening as part of your regular check-ups.
Please Contact Us for More Information
We want to do everything possible to keep your oral health and your general health on track. Please contact our office to arrange your next exam, including an oral cancer screening by our dentist.