As the building blocks of our body, cells maintain our tissues and organs. When cell production and regulation lapse, abnormal growths or malignant tumors destroy healthy tissues and spread or metastasize the diseased cells to other parts of the body.
About two-thirds of cancer of the mouth or oral cavity occurs in the floor of mouth and tongue, but can occur in the upper or lower jaw, lips, gums, and cheek lining. Just behind the mouth is an area known as the orophyarnx. Oropharygeal cancer (one-third of cases) occurs in the back of the tongue, tonsils and throat tissue.
People who use tobacco are six times more likely to develop oral cancer. Eight of 10 oral cancer patients are smokers. Heavy alcohol drinkers are also more at risk. 80% of people diagnosed with oral cancer consumer more than 21 drinks weekly. Finally people with a history of oral human papilloma virus infections are at greater risk to develop oral cancer even if they don’t smoke or drink.
The American Cancer Society recommends a comprehensive oral evaluation and soft tissue exam annually, yet only one in five patients reports having an oral cancer exam in the last year. Your prosthodontist is trained to perform a comprehensive evaluation of your mouth including the associated structures in the head and neck area.
An oral cancer screening is painless; treatment for advanced oral cancer is not.