More than 48,000 people will get oral cancer this year, and more than 9,500 will die from it, estimates The American Cancer Society. That is about one person every hour. This is just one of the statistics about the danger of oral cancer published in a recent article of AGD Impact, the magazine of the Academy of General Dentistry.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and we here at Boulevard Dental Associates would like to take this opportunity to emphasize the fact that oral hygiene visits are not just about clean teeth, they are about oral health. According to the AGD Impact article, only approximately 57% of those diagnosed with oral cancer will be alive in 5 years. In light of this, maintaining regular oral hygiene visits could be a matter of life and death.
The AGD Impact article also explains that a big reason for the large death rate of those diagnosed with oral cancer is that most people are still diagnosed in the late stages. This is because oral cancer can grow and develop without any obvious symptoms. That is why our oral hygiene visits include a lymph node (head and neck) and soft tissue exam (palate, floor of the mouth, sides of the tongue and cheeks).
At Boulevard Dental, we strive to create an atmosphere where our patients feel safe talking about their lifestyle choices; we want to come along side of our patients and educate them. According to the AGD Impact article, the top three risk factors for oral cancer are tobacco use, heavy alcohol use and human papillomavirus (HPV). Furthermore, the article mentions that according to the 2014 recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 72% of oropharyngeal cancers in the U.S. can be attributed to HPV. This statistic becomes even more pertinent in light of the fact that men can be asymptomatic carriers of HPV, says the AGD article.
Oral health is about overall health. This is what we want all of our patients at Boulevard Dental to know. This is an awareness that we strive for all of our patients to have, far beyond Oral Cancer Awareness Month.
Source: Moffett, F. Talking about oral cancer. AGD Impact. 2016; 15-18.