Despite its rising prevalence, numerous people are still uneducated about oral cancer. Many are unaware they may be at risk or even have the disease already. To help raise awareness, here are 7 facts you may not know about oral cancer.
Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week 2012 is April 22-28, and we’ve posted a two-part series with some facts and information you may not know about oral cancer. See Part 1: Nonsmokers Still At Risk for Oral Cancer.
7. Oral cancer is on the rise
Oral cancer prevalence had been decreasing since the 1960s until a 2004 National Cancer Institute survey. This survey showed that in the year 2004, approximately 244,000 cases of oral cancer were reported. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, this is the fifth year in a row in which the prevalence of oral cancer has increased.
6. Men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer as women
The 2004 survey by the National Cancer Institute found that approximately 157,000 of the affected 244,000 were men, as opposed to 87,000 women.
5. About 66% of oral cancers are not detected until stage 3 and 4
Oral cancer is not difficult to detect. Late detection results partly from a lack of screenings and partly from a lack of public awareness of the disease.
4. Oral cancer becomes more prevalent with age
In the survey, the number of those affected drastically increased after age 40. The number of individuals with oral cancer under age 40 came to just over 10,000. The remaining 234,000 were all over 40 years old.
3. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may lower your risk of oral cancer
Fruits and vegetables contain micro-nutrients that work to prevent cancer. Citrus fruits can influence cell cycle progression. Berries high in ellagic acid as well as vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage are great for helping prevent oral cancer.
2. Oral cancer is very serious
Approximately 34,360 individuals in the U.S. are diagnosed with oral cancer every year. Only about half this number will live for more than 5 years afterward, and more than 25% of those diagnosed will die.
Oral cancer is a very serious issue. Treatment involves the assistance of many professionals, including dental professionals. Even then, treatment may not be successful, and it will cost you thousands of dollars.
1. You can cultivate healthy habits now to reduce your risk of oral cancer
Oral cancer is becoming highly prevalent and can be life-threatening. However, there are steps you can take to help reduce your chances of being diagnosed with oral cancer (like brushing your teeth daily and eating the fruits and vegetables mentioned above).
The most common causes of oral cancer are tobacco and alcohol use. Moderating the amount of tobacco or alcohol you take in (or cutting it out altogether) is one of the best ways to prevent the disease.
Excessive sun exposure can result in lip cancer, so take precaution when you’re headed out on a sunny day—wear a lip balm that contains SPF or even a hat with a brim to provide shade.
Last but not least, schedule regular dentist appointments to prevent oral cancer. You can ask your dentist for an oral cancer screening when you go in for your 6-month checkup. Your dentist should be able to detect cancer and begin treatment early if you have been affected.
If finances are an issue, a dental plan can make those dental visits much more affordable for you. The oral cancer survival rate is much higher when detected in the early stages, so it is extremely beneficial to see your dentist regularly.
Has your dentist ever screened you for oral cancer?