Dr. Anderson: Early Detection Can Improve Oral Cancer Outcomes (continued)
Dr. Anderson says oral cancer can be just as deadly as other types of cancer. Only 50 percent of those stricken with the disease survive after five years.
“Because most oral cancers are not painful, people don’t seem as concerned to visit their doctor or dentist to check their symptoms,” Dr. Anderson said. “Because so many people delay or procrastinate, more than half of oral cancers are found in the late stages necessitating extensive surgeries and treatments.”
Dr. Anderson is one of a growing number of dentists who perform an oral cancer screening of patients during each preventive exam visit. He believes that the incidence of oral cancer is growing because of risk factors such as tobacco, drinking and even the human papilloma virus (HPV).
“Most people are aware of the cancer risks of tobacco,” Anderson said. “What they may not know are the risk factors associated with alcohol consumption and now HPV.”
He explained that all types of tobacco use, including smoking cigarettes and cigars, chewing tobacco and even using smokeless tobacco, increase the risk of contracting oral cancer.
“Studies are showing that more school age boys between 14 and 17 are moving to smokeless tobacco -- perhaps because it is easier to hide at school or erroneously considered a safer product,” Anderson noted. “There is just as much cancer risk in smoke-free products.”
For instance, studies at the University of Minnesota identified a strong oral carcinogen found in smokeless tobacco products called (S)-NNN, a compound in the nitrosamines family.
HPV is another risk factor that dentists and doctors are associating with oral cancer.The National Cancer Institute has reported that HPV, the sexually transmitted virus associated with cervical cancer, is now responsible for a sudden rise in oral cancers, especially in the younger population.
Anderson said that individuals should consider self- examination their first line of defense.
“Look for any oral lesions that do not go away in a few weeks, namely red or white patches or lumps that haven’t been present before,” he said. “Then, see your dentist every six months for a routine oral cancer detection screening.”
Anderson believes dentists have a duty to educate the public, especially the younger generation, about both of these risk factors causing oral cancers. “Early detection with regular oral cancer screenings are critical to saving lives,” he said.
Dr. Anderson provides family dental care, cosmetic dentistry and preventive services at his practice in Lake Conroe, Texas, about 50 miles north of Houston. For more information, visit www.lakeconroesmiles.com or call Joseph R. Anderson, D.D.S. (936) 588-4200.
Joseph R. Anderson, DDS - General and Cosmetic Dentistry Providing family dental care, cosmetic dentistry and preventive services to residents of Lake Conroe and surrounding areas – including Montgomery, Conroe, Cleveland, Willis, The Woodlands,and Houston,TX.