Dental Blog

Do I Need An Oral Cancer Screening If I’m young?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

If you’re like most people, you may think that oral cancer only affects older people who have a history of tobacco use. But in fact, younger people are being diagnosed with oral cancer at an alarming rate.

Building oral cancer awareness and encouraging screenings is our best line of defense against this disease. Here’s why everyone both young and old should get regular oral cancer screenings to stay safe.

  • It’s fast and painless. Oral cancer screenings only take a few minutes and consist of a visual exam of your face, neck, lips and mouth by your dentist or doctor. That’s it. It’s so simple, you may not even know you’re getting one! If you aren’t sure, just ask your dentist.
  • The face of oral cancer is changing: At one point, the largest high-risk group was men over age 65 with a history of tobacco use. While this group is still considered high-risk, women and young people are now developing oral cancer in record numbers.
  • There’s an HPV and oral cancer link: One explanation for the rise in oral cancer in younger people is thought to be its link to the human papillomavirus, or HPV. While most people can have HPV and never show any signs of it, this STD can lead to many kinds of cancer, including oral cancer in both genders. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that somewhere around 50 – 80% of the US population will have an HPV infection at some point in their life. If you’re sexually active, it’s smart to get annual oral cancer screenings.
  • Early detection saves lives: With early detection and treatment, the 5-year survival rate for patients with oral cancer increases dramatically, from 50% to 80%. That’s reason enough to get regular screenings to save your smile!

Keep your smile safe by asking for an oral cancer screening at your next dental checkup.