Oral Cancer Is Common Oral Cancer is the thirteenth most common cancer in Canada and among the twenty most common cancers worldwide. It is also one of the most easily preventable. Around 640,000 people worldwide – 40,000 in the United States alone – are diagnosed with oral cancer every year. Although the highest risk group is men over 40, women are also susceptible to the disease. This article outlines the key causes, consequences and implications of oral cancer to help the reader take positive lifestyle steps towards long term dental and general health. Poor Dental Health can Cause Oral Cancer Although oral cancer can be caused by Human Pappiloma virus (HPV) and radical changes in the immune system, poor dental health is also a common cause. Where there is excessive abrasion caused by ill-fitting dentures or fillings, skin lesions can appear which increase the likelihood of developing oral cancer. As a result, it is important to practice good oral hygiene. Brush after every meal, floss once a day and try to cut down on the amount of sugar in your diet. Awareness of Oral Cancer is Increasing As oral cancer increases and gains more notice in the public eye, there is a greater chance that it will be detected at the appropriate stage. The Oral Cancer Foundation has designated April as the oral cancer awareness month. During this time it is possible to learn more about oral cancer and how to prevent it. The month can also enable individuals to learn more about how oral cancer affects people’s lives and how they can support those who are affected by the disease. Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation recently discovered that 78% of adults in the United States have heard of oral cancer. The key implication of this finding is that many do not request screening for oral cancer from their dentist or else do not attend regular dental check-ups. Consequently, you should be sure to visit your dentist regularly and ask specifically about oral cancer. Early Detection of Oral Cancer is Key Although the cure rate for oral cancer is between 85 and 90%, it is estimated that around half of incidents of oral cancer spread to the throat and lungs by the time it has been diagnosed. As a result, it is important to visit your dentist every six months and mention oral cancer specifically as a possible concern. Oral mucosal screening methods can be used to identify the tumor, which typically starts as a white ulcer or white plaque. Experienced dentists are able to advise on the next steps of action. In some cases, a CT scan or X- Ray is also recommended, although dentists will typically rely on a tongue or bump biopsy for an initial diagnosis of the disease. Oral Cancer is Treatable and Avoidable Although oral cancer is treated with a high degree of success, there is nevertheless a wealth of cases where patients have died because of late diagnosis. This stems partly from an absence of adequate dental checkups. Regular dental visits are therefore essential. It is possible to prevent oral cancer through practicing good dental hygiene and maintaining a healthy general lifestyle. For further information about oral cancer and what steps you can take to avoid it, be sure to consult your dentist during your next check-up.