Understanding Oral Cancer: Risks, Prevention, and Community Awareness

An image depicting the awareness ribbon for oral cancer

April is designated as Oral Cancer Awareness month, and at Metro Decatur Dental Group PC, we feel it’s our responsibility to discuss the risks and prevention of oral cancer with our valued patients in Decatur, GA, and neighboring communities. While oral cancer may not receive as much attention as other types of cancer, it is a serious condition that demands our awareness. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 36,000 individuals in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, tragically resulting in nearly 7,000 deaths. These numbers are alarming, and it’s crucial to understand the significance of early detection and preventive measures. (Source: ACS, revised 02.26.2013)

The Rising Concern: Oral Cancer Statistics
The prevalence of oral cancer cases has seen a 15% increase since the 1970s. While diagnosing oral cancer is relatively straightforward, its real danger lies in often being detected during the later stages when it has already spread to other parts of the body.

Identifying Vulnerability: Factors Influencing Oral Cancer
Though we cannot predict who will develop oral cancer, certain factors can elevate the risk substantially:

  • Tobacco Use: Whether it’s smoking or using smokeless products like chewing tobacco, pipes, or cigars, there’s no safe form of tobacco consumption. The risk increases with the amount and frequency of tobacco use.
  • Alcohol Abuse: Consuming more than 15 alcoholic drinks per week significantly raises the risk. When combined with smoking, the risk escalates exponentially. (Source: National Institutes of Health, 2006)
  • HPV (Human Papillomavirus): Known for its association with genital cancers and genital warts, HPV can also lead to oral cancer.
  • Gender and Ethnicity: Men, especially those from black and Hispanic backgrounds, are at higher risk. The likelihood of developing oral cancer increases with age, particularly after 50. (Source: NIH, 2013)

Oral Cancer Screenings: A Vital Preventive Measure
Regular dental checkups that include comprehensive oral cancer exams are paramount in detecting oral cancer at its earliest stage. If it has been a while since your last checkup, we urge you to schedule an appointment at any of our three convenient dental offices in Decatur, GA, Bay Minette, or Mobile. By working together as a community and promoting awareness, we can combat this life-threatening disease effectively.


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