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Healthy Tahoe: All about oral cancer

John Bocchi

About the Author

Dr. John Bocchi can be reached at 775-588-8484 or http://www.SierraSmilesTahoe.com.

Oral cancer affects approximately 35,000 people annually. Of those, nearly 8,000 will die. Oral cancer is very real, very prominent and very scary. At Sierra Smiles Tahoe, we're here to help you further understand the disease.

The Risks

It's important to note that anyone is susceptible to oral cancer. However, some people are more vulnerable to the disease than others. While many of the risk factors are unavoidable, some can be controlled. Risks include:

Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.

Age: The average age of diagnosis is 62, and the majority of oral cancer patients are at least 55.

UV Rays: Those whose jobs or leisure activities are outside are at increased risk for oral and other cancers. Always wear protective sunscreen when outside.

Tobacco Use: 80 percent of oral cancer diagnoses are in people who use tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars or smokeless tobacco.

Alcohol: Nearly 70 percent of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.

Alcohol + Tobacco = DANGER! If you drink alcohol in large amounts often, and partake in smoking or smokeless tobacco, your chance for oral cancer can be as high as 100 percent.

The Symptoms

Knowing the signs of oral cancer can greatly increase survival. The earlier it's caught, the more successful treatment can be. Keep an eye out for:

Chronic bad breath

Sore(s) that don't go away

A lump on the cheek

Difficulty swallowing

Changes in your voice

If you do notice any of the signs above, please do not hesitate to call our office right away. Regular dental checkups are important for many reasons, but it's really crucial to catch oral cancer early. Schedule your next appointment at our Tahoe dental office today. One visit could save your life!

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