April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month
Let’s continue our conversation of oral cavity and oropharyngeal (middle part of the throat that includes the base of the tongue, the tonsils, soft palate, and the walls of the pharynx) cancer and risk factors.
Some people who have these cancers have few or no known risk factors, and others who have several risk factors never develop the disease. Some, such as your age or race, can’t be changed, and others may be related to personal choices. General factors include gender (twice as common in men), age (average age is 62 years old), and exposure to ultraviolet light (more common in people who work outdoors or others with prolonged exposure to sunlight). Genetic syndromes such as Fanconi anemia (blood condition caused by inherited abnormalities) and Dyskeratosis congenita (a genetically linked syndrome that can cause aplastic anemia) also carry a very high risk of mouth and throat cancer.
Lifestyle choices such as tobacco and alcohol use are among the strongest risk factors. About 80% of the people with oral cancer use tobacco and 70% are heavy drinkers. For those who smoke and drink, the risk is as high as 100% more than those who do not smoke or drink. Human papillomavirus (HPV) virus is a group of more than 150 types of viruses. Many HPV’s cause warts, but some are involved in cancer. HPV can be passed from one person to another during skin-to-skin contact. One way HPV is spread is through sex, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Smoking also increases the risk of oral HPV infections.
Follow us next week when we discuss how to lower your risk of contracting this disease. To learn more, call Advanced Dentistry by Design at (775) 400-2533 to schedule an evaluation. We look forward to smiling with you!