Oral, Head And Neck Cancer Screenings: What You Need to Know
It’s National Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week.
An estimated 75% of head and neck cancers start in the mouth-tongue, gums, lining inside the cheeks and lips, and the bony top of the mouth. Nearly 100,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral, head and neck cancer this year. The good news is that early detection by your dentist or doctor is the best way to prevent and treat these types of cancer.
For many years, tobacco and alcohol use were the main risk factors for oral, head and neck cancers. Today, human papillomavirus (HPV) infections in the mouth are becoming more common, and these may soon surpass tobacco and alcohol use as the leading cause of these cancers. Oral cancers linked to HPV, especially HPV-16, have increased three-fold over the past 20 years, with more men affected than women.
Who Should Be Screened
More people are being diagnosed with oral, head and neck cancers at a younger age than in the past. Since they now affect a more diverse group of people, virtually everyone should be screened. That includes:
People who smoke or have smoked or used other tobacco products, and those who drink alcohol in excess.
Anyone sexually active, as HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection.
Anyone with a prior head and neck malignancy.
What to Expect During a Screening
Your dentist or doctor will visually examine your head, neck, face and mouth to look for:
• Facial Symmetry
• Signs of Enlarged Lymph Nodes
• Changes in Voice
Yearly screenings are recommended. Call your dentist today!