Cancer is a scary enough word on its own, but add oral to it and one may wonder what exactly that consists of. We do not hear a lot about oral cancer, but it is on the rise. Oral cancer develops when mutations from our cells get damaged while growing at a faster rate than other cells. Our new cells and immune system are unable to repair the damaged DNA. The ratio is now 2 men to each woman that are being diagnosed. Oral cancer is any type of cancer that affects the tongue, jaw, tonsils and lower cheek area.
There will be around 50,000 Americans diagnosed this year with oral cancer and a little over half will be alive 5 years after diagnosis. Oropharyngeal cancers include cancer of the larynx bringing the total for both worldwide cancer cases at over 450,000 per year. Risk factors use to consist mainly of smoking, alcohol consumption and tobacco dip, but recent data shows us that non-smokers under 50 are the fastest growing segment of the oral cancer population.
Another contributing factor to oral cancer is HPV16 and represents a unique and independent disease process. Biological factors include viruses and fungi have been found in association with oral cancers, as well. Make sure to notice any changes in your mouth as in any red or white patches in the mouth along with any small canker sores. Be observant if you have any lumps or masses that you can feel in your mouth or neck and pay attention if you have trouble chewing, speaking or swallowing.
Make sure you are proactive and get a oral cancer screening from your dentist or oral surgeon. It is very, important to act fast if you discover any issues as stated above so you can get proper diagnosis and treatment. Early detection is key to fighting oral cancer and surviving.