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Who should be screened for oral cancer?

Who are at high risk for oral cancer? I believe that taking a proactive approach to understanding your oral health is critical. Oral cancer is real and affects many people in society. Therefore, it is important for me to educate my patients on the risk factors involved so that they can take precautionary steps towards early detection.

Tobacco users
Current and past tobacco users are at highest risk for oral cancer. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, and pipes have led to the highest incidences of recorded oral cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Tobacco snuff, dip, spit, chew, or dissolvable tobaccos are all linked to the development of cancer in the cheeks, gums and inner lips.

Heavy alcohol consumption
The American Cancer Society has noted from studies that 7 out of 10 heavy alcohol users have developed oral cancer. 

Heavy alcohol drinkers in addition to tobacco users
Studies have shown that the combination of these two behaviors has led to 100x times more likely to develop oral cancer.

Studies have also found that men are twice as likely than women for developing oral cancer. This is partially due to lifestyle decisions around tobacco use and alcohol consumption among men.

The development of oral cancer takes many years to occur. Therefore, studies have shown that it is more common among people that are 55 years old or greater.

Exposure to Ultra violet light (UV)
People that work outdoors should take extra precaution by applying UV protecting lip balm. This is because studies have shown that people working outdoors have a higher chance of developing lip cancers.

Poor nutrition
People that consume low amounts of fruits and vegetables have a higher chance of developing oral cancer.

Patients with compromised immune systems
Patients who are currently affected by an immune disorder are also at increased risk for oral cancer. This population should take proactive steps to being screened to avoid complications.

People with inherited defects known as Fanconi anemia or Dyskeratosis congenital are also at increased risk for oral cancer. Both these populations should take proactive steps to be screened to aid in early detection.

If you or someone you know falls into any of the categories above, please contact our office at 562-943-3794 to schedule an in office exam. Early detection is the key to early treatment.

To your oral health,
Charles Kim DDS.

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