In the range of ‘popular’ cancers, the one that often flies under the radar is oral cancer.
But is it really a big deal? It seems to pale in comparison to the cancers of the breast, pancreas, cervix and the like. Well, until a celebrity brings it under the spotlight.
Famous or not, however, it is a force not to be messed with. No sireee.
More than 40,000 Americans will get it this year, and it is predicted only about half will survive it
It usually spreads silently and painlessly….there may not be a red flag signalling for your attention
Survivors have a 20% higher risk of developing a secondary cancer….after the initial occurrence
More people under 40 are being diagnosed with it, and it used to affect mostly those over 40
Historically, the main causes have been smoking, or smoking + alcohol (risk increases 15X). But there’s a new kid on the block–and growing fast via sexual transmission–HPV-16 (Human Papilloma Virus)
All in all, it may be the ‘underdog’ of cancers, but still a force to be reckoned with. The numbers, unfortunately, are on the rise, especially in women (rising from 1 in 7 to 1 in 3).
The scary thing is that because of its stealthy nature, it is often diagnosed after it’s spread to other parts of the body. And treatment for oral cancer is not an easy road either. I’m talking radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and restorative procedures after that.
As in many health issues our nation faces today, lifestyle choices have a huge impact on the quality of our life. Modern science can do (and has done) a lot to improve it, but while we’re waiting for a magic pill to solve whatever ails us, there is the smarter alternative of taking charge of our own health.
Preventive measures for oral cancer include:
Limiting alcohol intake
A healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables
Safe sex (especially the young ones, since their rates are rising via HPV)
Last, but not least, every dental check up you come in for does include an oral cancer screening with us. We’re in that area more often than your physician, and thus more likely to spot something early on.
Any lumps or bumps are documented and you are informed. A follow up with us or a specialist is always discussed if anything out of the ordinary is suspected.
Till the number of those affected with oral cancer approach zero, smart lifestyle choices and early detection are your best bets in making sure that oral cancer does not grab center stage in your life.