The American Cancer Society estimates 53,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2019. Unfortunately, it will also lead to over 10,000 deaths this year alone. In addition, the 5-year survival rate for those diagnosed is less than 50%. The long-term survival rate is low due to late detection. Although it can occur in anyone, it is vital those who have a family history of the disease undergo a regular oral cancer screening with their dentist in Cary.
Risks of Oral Cancer
Oral and oropharyngeal cancers are classified as those that affect the head and neck; however, brain cancer is in a separate category. It can develop anywhere in the oral tissues, like the tongue, tonsils, gums, or floor of the mouth.
Sadly, the long-term survival rate is not as promising as other forms because of late diagnosis. Often, it is not found until it has reached advanced stages or metastasized to other areas of the body.
Although oral cancer screenings can help to detect as much as 80% of new cases, many people are not aware they are available or do not understand how often they need to have one. It is recommended you have a screening performed by your Cary dentist at least once a year, but if you have certain risk factors for the disease, like a family history, you may need one more often.
Family History and Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can develop in anyone and at any age, but the risk generally increases after the age of 45. Some people are genetically predisposed for it. The most common type of oral cancer that appears in those who have a family history is squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). They have the highest risk of it developing in the head or neck regions if there is a first-degree family member who has been diagnosed with it, like a parent or sibling.
Although you cannot fully avoid developing cancer, there are several things you can do to help lower the risk if you have a family history, such as:
- Avoid smoking and tobacco.
- Limit your alcohol consumption.
- Eat a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables.
- Limit your sun exposure.
- Maintain your health.
- Receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
Routine Oral Cancer Screenings
If you have any risk factors for the disease, it is vital you receive an oral cancer screening at least once a year. Your dentist can easily perform one during your routine appointment for a cleaning and checkup. If any concerning issues develop in between visits, like thickening of your soft tissues, changes to the tissues’ color, or sores, do not hesitate to schedule a screening sooner.
If it has been more than 12 months since your last examination, do not wait. Benefit from early detection with an oral cancer screening.
About Dr. Darren Koch
Dr. Darren Koch provides complete preventive services to promote the health of your mouth and body. Besides cleanings and checkups, he also offers oral cancer screenings. Contact our office today to schedule your next appointment.