Did you know that the fastest growing segment of the oral cancer community is young, healthy non-smokers?
It’s shocking but true. Exposure to the HPV-16 virus (human papilloma virus), the most commonly sexually transmitted virus, is now the leading cause of oral cancers in the US. There is nothing we can do to stop this virus from spreading; our only hope to save lives is with professional involvement and public awareness.
Approximately 37,000 Americans will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2012. When found early, oral cancers have an 80% survival rate which is FANTASTIC! Unfortunately, the majorities are found as late stage cancers and this accounts for the very high death rate of about 45% at five years from diagnosis. Before it kills you it can lead to the loss of part or all of the jaw, loss of all or part of the tongue, nose, eye(s). It doesn’t have to be this way and it starts with your dentist & hygienist as the first line of defense through the process of early discovery.
Physicians were able to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer by over 70% in one decade by giving annual PAP smears to American women. We dentists have the opportunity to have an equal, if not greater, impact on the incidence of oral cancer. The single most important thing we do to reduce the impact of this disease is to conduct comprehensive oral cancer exams at least once a year for our patients.
If you do not think your dentist or hygienist is doing this then ASK! I do it at every visit I see a patient and have found cancers in too many patients over the years. If you have any questions please call our office: (562) 434-6414.