Oral cancer is a major concern for many branches of the medical field, including dentistry. According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, around 53,000 people will likely be diagnosed with this type of cancer within the next year. Because of its higher mortality rate than many other types of cancer, early detection and prevention are essential…
Ask a Family Dentist: What Are Common Causes of Oral Cancer?
You should understand the risk factors that contribute to the onset of oral cancer to ensure that you can take action to reduce your risk. The following review offers insights from a family dentist on the most notable risk factors of oral cancer and what to do reduce your overall risk.
What are the oral cancer risk factors?
The cause of oral cancer is not known, but there are risk factors that can increase the chances of oral cancer developing. The risk factors that seem to have the strongest correlation with oral cancer include the use of tobacco and alcohol, age, sex, human papillomavirus (HPV), and genetic conditions. Those who are diagnosed with oral cancer once are also at an increased risk of having other bouts of oral cancer in the future.
Tobacco and alcohol use
Tobacco and alcohol contain chemicals (carcinogens) that can damage the DNA in cells and lead to oral cancer. The more that a person uses tobacco and alcohol, the more likely they are to develop oral cancer as they grow older. Those who use both tobacco and alcohol are at the highest risk of oral cancer.
Age and sex
Oral cancer can develop in younger adults, but it is most common among those who are over the age of 55. The average age of a person with oral cancer is 62. In addition, oral cancer affects men more than it affects women. Therefore, men over the age of 55, particularly those who use tobacco or drink regularly, are at an increased risk of oral cancer.
HPV can increase the risk of oral cancer. In fact, according to UW School of Dentistry, in more than half of all oral cancer cases, the patient also has HPV. Therefore, individuals who are diagnosed with the condition should take extra precautions by not smoking or using tobacco products and by scheduling regular oral cancer screenings with their family dentist.
There are certain genetic factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer. Perhaps the two most notable genetic conditions believed to increase the risk of oral cancer are Fanconi anemia and dyskeratosis congenita. Both are blood disorders. According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, individuals with Fanconi anemia are as much as 500 times more likely to develop oral cancer than the average person.
Excessive sun exposure
There is believed to be a correlation between excessive sun exposure and the onset of oral cancer. Subsequently, it is important to avoid sun exposure for long periods of time and wear sunscreen responsibly to reduce the risk of oral cancer.
Schedule an oral cancer screening with our family dentist
Get in touch with our family dentistry today if you have additional questions about oral cancer and/or would like to schedule an oral cancer screening. We encourage annual screenings for people over the age of 40.
Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Oral Cancer Screening in Fresno, CA.
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