Denver, CO – April is National Oral Cancer Awareness month, and it is important that dental professionals work closely with their patients to help all patients understand the risk factors that can increase the chances of developing oral cancer.
The Denver periodontics specialists at Altura Periodontics take the health of their patients very seriously, and work with each patient to help them understand risk factors that can attribute not just to poor oral health, but to poor general health as well.
It is estimated that more than 40,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Of that, nearly 8,000 will die. Oral cancer is twice as prevalent in men as it is in women, and the average age at diagnosis is 62.
Tobacco and alcohol use are the most significant risk factors for developing oral cancer. The majority of patients who develop mouth cancer are tobacco users, and the risk of developing the cancer directly correlates to how long and how much the patient smoked or chewed tobacco.
Tobacco use can cause cancer in the mouth and throat, as well as on the larynx, lungs, esophagus, kidneys, bladder and other organs. Pipe smoking poses a significant risk of developing cancer on the lips, whereas chewing tobacco and other smokeless tobacco products increase the risk of cancer of the cheek, gums and inner surfaces of the lips.
Smokeless tobacco products also increase a patient’s risk for developing gum disease, which can lead to loss of bone and teeth. Your Denver periodontist will advise you to stop using tobacco products completely, and will also advise you to maintain regular visits during which an oral cancer screening can be completed.
Heavy drinkers also have a higher risk of developing oral cancers. In fact, it is estimated that 7 out of 10 patients diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers. And for those who may be drinkers and smokers, the risk is even higher. The risk of these cancers developing in someone who both smokes and drinks may be as much as 100 times greater than in someone who doesn’t smoke or drink.
While diagnoses of oral cancer had begun to fall, in recent years there has been an increase, attributed to more cases of human papillomavirus. There are more than 150 viruses associated with HPV, and one is linked to throat cancer. HPV16 can be spread through oral sex.
Oral HPV is more common in men than women, and is dangerous because HPV infections of the mouth and throat often have no symptoms. HPV DNA is found in two out of three oropharyngeal cancers. Patients with oral cancer associated with HPV tend to be younger and are not smokers or drinkers.
Your dentist can be your best defense in the fight against oral cancer, and Altura Periodontics has the cutting edge technology to ensure oral cancer is found early so treatment can begin right away.
Through a new oral rinse test, called MOP and MOP ID, the dental professionals at Altura Periodontics can now detect oral cancer, pharyngeal cancer and HPV before visual detection is possible. And all it takes is a 30 second mouth rinse. It is recommended that everyone over the age of 18 have this test yearly.
This is important because many oral and pharyngeal cancers do not have visual symptoms until the cancer has progressed significantly. The death rate associated with these cancers has historically been high not because it is hard to diagnose, but because it has typically been discovered in later stages, making it harder to treat.
Altura Periodontics is committed to ensuring the health of each patient we see. We are proud to offer this new MOP and MOP ID testing for each of our patients over the age of 18. If you have any of the risk factors mentioned above, call to schedule an appointment today. Thirty seconds may be all it takes to safeguard your health.
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