By Madeline Elkin-Aquino, Health Educator and Outreach Specialist at Little Red Door Cancer Agency, AmeriCorp Public Ally
Did you know going to the dentist helps with the fight against oral cancer? As of 2014, oral cancer killed nearly one person every hour of the day. However, oral cancer does not have to be a death sentence. The American Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM) and other dental associations urge for regular oral examination—because early detection saves lives. Regular visits to your dentist—meaning every six months—not only reduces late stage diagnosis of oral cancer, but also help prevent cavities and other oral health problems. For more information about proper screenings check out the Oral Cancer Foundation.
In addition to going to the dentist, it’s important to know your risk factors. Gender, age and life habits are the most significant factors that contribute to your risk. Men are twice as likely to have oral cancer, and most diagnosed patients are 55 or older. Lifestyle choices like tobacco usage and excessive drinking significantly increase your risk for getting oral cancer.
Recently the sexually transmitted infection HPV has been associated with throat and back-of-the-mouth cancers. Since HPV is one of the most prevalent STIs, affecting between 80-90% of sexually active people at some point in their lives, oral cancer is a risk to all sexually active people.
For a list of symptoms and prevention strategies check out this link.
The main take away is better teeth means better health, so keep going to your dentist. And if you or a loved one is suffering from oral cancer know that Little Red Door is always here to help!