This year, there are about 54,000 new cases of oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer in the United States. The overall rate of new cases has risen over the past 20 years.
Nevertheless, several common myths about oral cancer hang around, distracting from a very real threat.
1. Only Smokers Get It
One of the most common myths about oral cancer is that only smokers and nicotine users get it. There are different factors that can cause oral cancer, including tobacco and nicotine usage, but they aren’t the only factors.
Smoking can increase your odds of being diagnosed with oral cancer. Alcohol consumption also significantly increases your risk.
Genetics may have something to do with the diagnosis, but they don’t guarantee someone will get oral cancer.
2. Oral Cancer Is Rare
According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, lip and oral cavity cancers rank 16th among the most common cancers in the world.
Oral cancer is not rare. To reduce your risk, limit your alcohol and tobacco consumption, and follow a healthy diet as well.
Always opt for preventative screenings through your oral care provider.
3. I’m Too Young
Another oral cancer myth is that young people can’t get it. Although oral cancer symptoms and risks increase with age, no one is immune to the disease.
Regardless of age, there are other factors that contribute to the likelihood of oral cancer. Certain STDs like HPV are linked to developing oral cancer. Someone with HPV, in any age group, has an increased risk of oral cancer.
4. Only High-Risk Patients Are Screened
Screening for mouth cancer and tongue cancer should be a step in any comprehensive adult dental exam.
A dentist or dental hygienist can examine your throat, lymph nodes, mouth, and tongue for sores, lumps, or discoloration. This noninvasive screening doesn’t involve radiation.
If the screener finds any signs of oral cancer, they can perform a biopsy or refer you to a specialist if they don’t offer those services.
5. It’s Easy to Spot the Signs of Oral Cancer
Even if you know all of the oral cancer facts, it’s not always easy to spot the signs of oral cancer.
Mouth and throat cancers that are HPV-linked can form in hard-to-notice places. These forms of oral cancer can show up in the lymph nodes, tonsils, and the base of the tongue.
This is just another one of the reasons why it’s important to visit the dentist for regular checkups and exams. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to stopping cancer from spreading.
Myths About Oral Cancer Debunked
These myths about oral cancer are dangerous. By understanding the facts, you know that anyone is at risk of developing oral cancer, but there are factors associated with higher risks.
Early detection of oral cancer is important. Be better safe than sorry and schedule regular oral cancer screenings.
Contact us today to schedule a dental checkup and cancer screening.