• Daniel Huigens DDS

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is one of the most deadly cancers of the human body if not caught early. The trouble is most are not diagnosed until it has advanced. The signs and symptoms are most time innocuous and not painful. American Cancer Society projected that there were more than 51,540 new cases in 2018 and at least 10,030 deaths.

Although significant efforts have been made to increase the rate of early diagnosis, the 5 year survival rates and prognosis have not improved due to delayed diagnosis.

This is a result of many factors, like inadequate screening, financial barriers to diagnostic tests, lack of education and action on the part of health care providers, and lack of action by patients due to the absence of pain.

HPV (Human Papillomavirus ) is the most commonly sexually transmitted disease in the United States. It can be transmitted for just skin to skin and sharing cups or utensils. CDC reports that 80% of Americans are exposed to HPV during their lifetimes but 99% of these will clear the infection because of healthy immune system. Those who don't can develope cervical cancer, cancer of the mouth and throat, cancer of the genitals . About 9,000 cases cancers from HPV are diagnosed a year. More common in men than women by 4 times. There are no tests available to determine one's HPV status.

There is a vaccine and the CDC recommends that 11-12 year old boys and girls get two doses of HPV vaccine to prevent cervical and genital cancers . There are vaccines now toe 27 - 45 year olds as well. All these vaccines are safe and work on strains of HPV that cause head and neck cancer.

Early diagnosis is the key to treating any cancer. Most dentists are trained to look for early signs when examining the mouth but many other health care professionals do not look for it.

Another reason to see your dentist once a year at minimum.

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