Dental Blog

3 Reasons Oral Cancer Is Increasing in Younger People

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Many people assume oral cancer only affects older men with a history of tobacco and alcohol use. However, today the trends are changing. Lately there has been a dramatic rise in oral cancer diagnoses for women and younger people of any gender.

What’s causing the change?

  1. Lifestyle factors: Lifestyle choices continue to be the greatest risk factor for oral cancer. An increase in female tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and sun exposure are all thought to be linked to the increase in female diagnoses. Limiting risk factors can go a long way towards prevention.
  2. Human papillomavirus (HPV): HPV is a virus that is transferred through sexual activity and can cause irregular cells to multiply. Non-smoking men between the ages of 35-55 are most at risk of developing oral cancer caused by HPV, but young women are at an increased risk as well. HPV affects an estimated 80% of all adults, often without any symptoms at all making oral cancer screenings even more vital for an early diagnosis.
  3. Lack of awareness: Young people are typically not screened for oral cancer because in the past they have not been considered at risk. However, with cases of oral cancer on the rise in younger people, it is becoming more and more important to get screened every year, beginning as early as age 25.

Oral cancer screenings are non-invasive and take less than five minutes. Talk to your dentist about getting screened at your next annual dental exam.

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