Why You Should Think About an Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer is a type of cancer that can occur in the mouth and throat. It has been linked to alcohol and tobacco use and HPV infection, and it accounts for nearly 3% of all cancers diagnosed in the US every year.
Cigarette smoking is the major risk factor for oral cancer, especially among men — due to deep inhalation, which brings carcinogens into contact with more cells in the lungs. This article will shed some light on why you should consider opting for an Oral Cancer Screening.
1) For Early Diagnosis
The importance of early diagnosis of oral cancer cannot be understated. Oral cancer can significantly impact one’s life both physically and mentally, so it is imperative that early signs are detected for warning. Signs to look out for include:
- White or red patches or blisters in the mouth that persist.
- Black spots on the tongue.
- Abnormal changes in your teeth alignment.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing food.
- Persistent pain in the jaw.
- Ear pain.
Early diagnosis is important because if the cancer is detected early on, it has a higher chance of being successfully treated. It also helps reduce the risk of metastasis and recurrence.
If left undiagnosed and untreated, oral cancer can spread through your system.
2) American Cancer Society Recommends it
Oral cancer is the 8th most common form of cancer in the United States, with roughly 65,000 cases diagnosed yearly. This accounts for approximately 8% of all cancers diagnosed annually.
The American Cancer Society estimates about 10,000 people die from oral cancer each year. It also estimates 11,230 deaths from oral cancer or oropharyngeal cancer in 2022.
While not as common as other cancers like breast or prostate cancer, it is crucial to know how to protect yourself against this life-threatening disease.
3) If You Have a Family History of Oral Cancer
Family history is a well-known risk factor for oral and pharyngeal cancer. Carriers of the facial clefting gene that cause hemifacial microsomia have increased risk for oral and pharyngeal cancer and other cancers such as lymphoma, leukemia, and brain tumors.
According to BMC Cancer, a family history of head and neck cancer is a sign of an increased risk of oral cancer. The study was done using data from 689 cases.
Another study conducted in Switzerland and Italy on 956 cases also says that a history of oral and pharyngeal cancer is a strong determinant of the same. Various studies conclude that oral cancer tends to aggregate in families.
4) If You are Under Prolonged Sun Exposure
Prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV radiation leads to Vitamin D production in the skin. As a result, this leads to increased chances of developing oral cancer due to the damage done by free radicals and oxidation. Long-term exposure can lead to an increase in squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), which may be caused by inflammation and chronic irritation.
Due to prolonged sun exposure, the cells of the tissue lining the mouth can be exposed to damaging levels of UV radiation. This UV radiation is known as a carcinogen and is known to cause cancer in other parts of the body.
When exposed to these high levels of UV for prolonged periods, the cells mutate and form pre-cancerous lesions. Without proper protection from these carcinogenic rays, individuals are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer.
5) If You Are in the 40s
Studies have shown that those in their 40s and 50s are more likely to be affected by oral cancer than other age groups. This is because of factors such as the period in which they were born, generation, lifestyle choices, and the socioeconomic status that they may have been brought up in.
As well as the fact that their teeth and gums are aging, this large age group has a higher chance of suffering from oral cancer.
This is because of the increased risk of developing behavioral and environmental risk factors such as tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, and HPV infection. These risk factors may explain why incidence rates increase with age. If you are above 40 and have symptoms such as tooth or jaw pain, lumps in the neck, difficulty swallowing, changes in speech, consider opting for an oral cancer screening.