Posts for tag: oral cancer

By Orthodontics for Children and Adults
September 10, 2014
Category: Oral Health
CurtSchillingBlamesSmokelessTobaccoforHisOralCancer

For years, even as tobacco use began to decline and disappear in most settings, professional baseball seemed one of the few exceptions. Now, the tide is finally turning. Recently, the legendary right-hand pitcher Curt Schilling revealed that he had been treated for oral cancer — and said that his chewing tobacco habit was to blame. “I’ll go to my grave believing that was why I got [cancer],” Schilling told the Boston Globe.

Schilling isn’t the only former player whose oral cancer is blamed on smokeless tobacco. Tony Gwynn, Hall of Famer and beloved coach, recently passed away from oral cancer at the age of 54. His death led to players pledging to give up the habit. But many still use “dip” or “snuff,” thinking perhaps it’s not so bad after all.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. With nicotine as its active ingredient, chewing tobacco can be just as addictive as cigarettes. Not only is nicotine addictive, it also increases heart rate and blood pressure, constricts the arteries, and affects the body in other ways. In addition to nicotine, chewing tobacco contains about 30 other chemicals known to cause cancer.

Tobacco use of any kind is a major risk factor for oral cancer. While it isn’t as well-known as some other types of cancer, oral cancer can be just as deadly. About 43,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with it each year — and the 5-year survival rate is just 57%. One reason for the relatively low survival rate is that oral cancer isn’t usually detected until it has reached a later stage, when it’s much harder to treat.

What can you do to reduce your risk for oral cancer? Clearly, you should stop using tobacco products of any kind. Moderating your intake of alcohol, and eating more plant foods and less red meat can also have an impact. And don’t forget to have regular dental checkups: cancer’s warning signs can often be recognized in an oral examination — and early detection can boost survival rates to 80-90 percent.

How does Schilling feel about chewing tobacco now? “I lost my sense of smell, my taste buds for the most part. I had gum issues, they bled, all this other stuff,” he told the Globe. “I wish I could go back and never have dipped. Not once.”

If you have questions about oral cancer or cancer prevention, contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Chewing Tobacco” and “Diet and Prevention of Oral Cancer.”

By Orthodontics for Children and Adults
January 28, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral cancer  
AreYouatRiskforOralCancer

Oral cancer accounts for approximately 3% of cancers in men and 2% in women. That may not sound like a lot, but the disease often isn't detected until it has progressed to its later stages when it's harder to treat and the outlook for survival is significantly diminished.

The main areas where oral carcinomas (cancers) occur are:

  • the tongue (most common location, particularly the sides and underneath)
  • the lip (especially the lower one),
  • the oral cavity (the mouth), and
  • the pharynx (back of mouth and throat).

Risk Factors You Can't Control

Even if you can't change these risks, awareness helps raise your vigilance in order to catch potential problems early when treatment options and positive outcomes are greatest.

  • Heredity
  • Aging — More than 90% of all oral cancers occur in individuals over 40. However, the incidence among younger people has been on the uptick recently, perhaps related to lifestyle behaviors.
  • Race — African Americans have a higher incidence of oral cancer than Caucasians.

Risk Factors You Can Address

  • Smoking and chewing tobacco — Smokers are at five to nine times greater risk and snuff and tobacco chewers at about four times greater risk
  • Alcohol — Moderate to heavy drinkers are at three to nine times greater risk; the higher the alcohol content, the greater the risk
  • Chronic sun exposure — Often connected with lip cancers.
  • Viral infections — Namely the human papilloma virus “HPV 16,” which has been linked to sexual transmission (oral sex) and cervical cancer in women.

One way you can address these risk factors is to have a diet rich in fruits/vegetables, which are high in antioxidants because they been found to have a protective effect against a variety of cancers, including oral.

As part of your routine oral hygiene, you should be closely monitoring any non-healing changes in your mouth (e.g., ulcers or sores, white or red patches on the tongue). And rest assured that as part of your regular check-ups, our office performs a comprehensive visual screening for signs of oral cancer.

If you would like more information about oral cancer prevention and detection, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Oral Cancer” and “Diet and Prevention of Oral Cancer.”