Oral Cancer: Truth or False?
As many of you know, we are constantly vigilant in detecting oral cancer in our patients. But what is the truth about oral cancer? Take the “True or False” test below and see how you score.
- All Oral cancer is caused by tobacco. False. Although tobacco usage has been linked to certain forms of oral cancer, many individuals who has never used tobacco have been diagnosed with oral cancer. The number of non-smoking individuals diagnosed with oral cancer is growing every year.
- All Oral cancer is caused by oral sex. False. Although the virus that can cause oral cancer—Human Papilloma Virus or HPV—is the same virus that can cause other cancers (including cervical, penile and anal cancer), it is also the virus that causes common warts (i.e. on the hands, etc.). HPV can easily spread from hand to hand contact. Once an individual has HPV, he/she can easily spread it to other parts of the body—the mouth, the eyes, the genitals, etc.
- Most oral cancer is caused by a virus. True. Human Papilloma Virus or HPV is the leading cause of oral cancer. Vaccinations such as Guardisil are recommended for individuals in their teens or early 20’s—these can prevent infection with HPV.
- Some oral cancer is linked to alcohol usage. True. Evidence shows that individuals with high alcohol usage have higher rates of certain types of oral cancers and throat cancers.
- Oral cancer usually occurs in older men. True and False. In the past, most oral cancer cases showed up in older men, especially those with a history of tobacco and alcohol use. At present, there are more cases of oral cancer in individuals with no history of tobacco and alcohol use. Also, the average age at which individuals are diagnosed is moving lower each year. More and more, younger people—including women—are being diagnosed with oral cancer.
In summary: If detected early, most oral cancer can be treated with a simple removal of the lesion by an oral surgeon. If left to grow, oral cancer can spread, leading to a need for major surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. If the treatment is unsuccessful, the patient could die.
At Bright Star Dental, our entire clinical team is trained to detect oral cancer. At each visit, we are always looking and evaluating the oral cancer potential for each patient. With early detection and intervention, we hope to keep all of our patients healthy and oral cancer free.
Well, that’s all for this week.
Until next time,