While there are known risk factors for developing oral cancer such as smoking, for instance, there are a number of general, lifestyle-related and existing conditions that play a role in one’s susceptibility. That’s why dental professionals urge patients not to forego regular dental visits, as they allow for early detection as well as important conversations regarding the link between oral and overall health. Thus, if you’re wondering about your risks for developing oral cancer, continue reading below.
Perhaps it’s easier to understand the risks of developing oral cancer by taking a look at how these factors are categorized. For example, general risk factors include gender, age and ultraviolet light. While men are more likely to develop oral cancer (including throat cancer) over women, the American Cancer Society reports that with a larger number of women drinking alcohol and using tobacco products, the gap is decreasing. In turn, the average age for detection and diagnosis is 62, while those having spent considerable amounts of time outdoors in the sun are at an increased risk of developing oral cancer of the lips.
Though gender, age, sun exposure and other lifestyle habits continue to be connected to oral cancer, there are certain health conditions that also increase one’s risk. One of these is the Human Papillomavirus, or HPV. While most people associate HPV with ovarian cancer, there are particular cancers found in HPV that are also found in cancers of the throat and mouth. What’s more is that HPV infections in the oral cavity do not always elicit symptoms.
Additionally, individuals that take medications to suppress their immune system, such as ones taken following a transplant procedure are also tied to the development of oral cancer. While these medications are needed, they affect one’s ability to fight infection. Specific conditions believed to increase the chances of oral cancer are the Lichen Planus rash and GVHD, or Graft-Versus-Host Disease, which might occur after a stem-cell transplant.
Regular Dental Checkups Are Key
It’s true that regular dental visits are important to obtaining optimal oral health and your best smile. Yet, regular dental checkups accomplish much more. For many, they provide critical feedback about one’s overall health, including the detection of oral cancer.
Dr. Leia Porcaro remains a trusted family dentist in Marietta and surrounding areas. If it’s been some time since you’ve visited a dentist, or if you are experiencing symptoms that are of concern, give Dr. Porcaro a call at her practice—Grateful Dental. You deserve peace of mind about your oral and overall health.