Oral cancer is growing at double-digit rates – and the fastest growing group is young women because of the spread of human papillomavirus (HPV). Men are also at risk of contracting oral cancer associated with HPV. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that men and women with six or more oral-sex partners during their lifetime experienced nine times the risk of developing cancer of the tonsils or at the base of the tongue. Those infected with HPV were 32 times more likely to develop oral cancer. The risk of developing oral and pharyngeal cancer associated with HPV is 3 times greater than risk from smoking and 2.5 times greater than the risk from alcohol consumption.
New technologies such as OralCDx Brush Biopsy and ViziLite improve early detection when combined with the American Dental Association recommended visual and tactile examination. The death rate for oral cancer is higher than cervical and testicular cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and melanoma. The gold standard for detecting oral cancer continues to be biopsy.
Be aware of any changes in your mouth. Look for color changes from pink to white or pink to red as well as any ulcerations that do not disappear in a week or two. Visit your dentist immediately if you have type of suspicious sore, ulceration, growth, lesion or lump in your mouth. At McCarl Dental Group we have also seen a patient with an oral cancer that on visual inspection looked like a periodontal or gum infection. We perform careful oral cancer screening during each dental exam and when indicated perform brush biopsies. McCarl dentists work very closely with oral surgeons in Annapolis, Severna Park and Greenbelt Maryland to provide comprehensive care for our dental patients.
LOWER YOUR RISK FOR ORAL CANCER
- Limit alcohol consumption and do not smoke.
- Practice safe sex — use a condom every time.
- Don’t have oral sex with multiple partners as this increases your chance for oral cancer.
- Discuss the HPV vaccine with your physician. The HPV vaccine Gardasil protects against four of about 40 strains of HPV that are seen in the mouth and genital tracts.
- Ask your dentist the results of your oral cancer screening each time you go in for your regular check-up.
The following videos show new technology screening methods for oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Diagnosis Brush Test