Oral cancer screening
Screening for cancer involves examination for early stages in the development of the disease even though there are no apparent symptoms. This holds true for oral and mouth cancers where your dentist or oral hygienist can detect changes in the tissues of the mouth when they are pre-cancerous or very small tumors.
The screening procedure is quick and painless, cost effective, and can be performed by a dentist, dental hygienist, or doctor. If abnormalities are found, a referral to an oral surgeon is usually recommended.
What causes oral cancer is not known. There are certain risk factors that have been associated with oral cancer. Older black men who use tobacco are at highest risk of developing oral cancer.
African Americans are at greater risk of developing oral cancer and dying from it. Men are twice as likely to develop the disease as women. It’s more likely to occur in people over 40, although it has been found increasingly in younger people because of viral exposure and chewing tobacco use. Nearly 75 percent of people who develop oral cancer use tobacco—they either smoke or use what has been incorrectly promoted as a safer form of tobacco—chewing tobacco. Add heavy alcohol consumption, and risk is 15 times greater than that of the general populations. Exposure to the two strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV)—#16 and #18—has been associated with increased risk.
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