While it is not the goal of the Dental Health Blog to bring our readers bad news, we do feel the need to educate our readers. As part of that function, we must bring you the bad news that oral cancer rates are on the rise in the US.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), incidents of oral cancer have ticked upward significantly in the past 40 years.
“Oral cancers are part of a group of cancers commonly referred to as head and neck cancers, and of all head and neck cancers they comprise about 85% of that category. Brain cancer is a cancer category unto itself, and is not included in the head and neck cancer group.” (Oral Cancer Foundation)
Based on the latest information, the oral cancer rate has increased about 15% from the mid-1970s, with rather large disparities among some population groups. The highest rate of increase was found among minority men.
The bullet points below present oral cancer incidence rates for adults of all age groups, as well as for selected racial and ethnic groups.
- Overall, 10.5 adults per 100,000 will develop oral cancer.
- Oral cancer rates are significantly higher for males than for females.
- Oral cancer rates are higher for Hispanic and Black males than for White males.
- Oral cancer rates increase with age. The increase becomes more rapid after age 50 and peaks between ages 60 and 70.
The death rate for oral cancer is significantly higher than for many other types, not because it is difficult to discover or diagnose, but rather, because oral cancer is routinely discovered late in its development.
Oral Cancer Prevention
The most important steps you can take to prevent oral cancer include regular dental check-ups and – stop using any and all tobacco products. Beyond these, you can also:
- Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all.
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure to your lips.
- Stop using tobacco or don’t start.
- See your dentist regularly.
Your dental professional is the single most important person in your life if you are at risk of oral cancer – beyond you and your behaviors, of course. Regular dental check-ups can literally save your life.
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