One story the mainstream media’t covering is the fact that oral cancer is rising among sexually active adults.
This rise is due to the well-established link between oral human(HPV) infection and cancers of the tongue, throat and tonsils.
April 12 – 18 is Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week where over 200 medical centres around the world will be offering oral cancer screenings at no charge – and this includes my Double Bay practice.
Please stop by at, 14 Manning Rd, Double Bay for your cancer screening. Please bring a friend — and forward this life-saving information to other people you know.
Oral Cancer and HPV: Just the Facts, Ma’am
By Dr. Sandra Short
Did you know that if you’re a sexually active adult who engages in open-mouth kissing and/or oral sex, you have an increased risk for oral, head and neck cancer? It’s true. And, did you know that HPV is responsible for 50% of cancers of the throat, which account for half of all oral cancers? True again.
What is HPV?
A group of over 100 different viruses, HPV is a viral infection that’s spread through skin-to-skin contact. The National Cancer Alliance has identified over 15 strains of high-risk HPV – the kind that cause cancer – including HPV-16 and HPV-18, the strains associated with cervical cancer.
Currently, no cure exists for HPV.
How is HPV connected with oral cancer?
Because it’s viral, HPV is being spread through common sexual practices, including open mouth kissing and oral sex. The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 30,000 new oral cancer cases are diagnosed each year.
What is oral cancer and why should I be concerned?
Oral cancer is any cancer of the head, neck and mouth, including the pharynx, sinuses and nasal cavity, the voice box, thyroid and salivary glands, the skin of the face and neck, and the lymph nodes in the neck.
Unfortunately, oral cancer is often diagnosed in its later stages, making it more likely for complications to set in and resulting in disfigurement (i.e. patients with cancer of tongue may have to have their tongue removed). Left untreated, oral cancer results in death.
Two survivor stories,
24-Year Old married Mum Survives Oral Cancer — Wants to Help Others
A young mother from the US, suddenly lost her voice in September 2006 at the age of 24.
The diagnosis? Oral cancer, which proved to be the beginning of her journey with cancer. This is her story:
When she lost her voice, she looked to her doctor, who referred her to Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor. He initially prescribed a steroidal treatment for the “beefy red lesion” he detected at the back of her throat. One week later the lesion had doubled in size, prompting the ENT to surgically remove the lesion. Immediately after the surgery, her voice returned.
Two days later, the doctor called with the test results: “It’s malignant.”
The doctor referred her to Emory University, who diagnosed her with small cell carcinoma of the larynx, a condition typically found in older male smokers. Thankfully, he reported, her throat was now clear of cancer cells, but they could not provide any medical reason why a person as young as this had contracted this type of cancer.
Throughout the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007, at her doctors’ recommendation, she underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment. When she lost her hair as a result of treatment, her husband shaved his head to match hers. Throughout treatment, her tests came back clear of cancer cells, but she persisted in finishing the treatment as her doctors prescribed.
Fueled by her faith and her optimism, her dedication to her treatment paid off. In March of 2007, the month of her wedding anniversary, she was officially diagnosed as being cancer-free.
For her, March 2010 signifies three years of being cancer-free. She feels stronger now than ever before for having gone through the process and has learned not to take life for granted.
She wants young adults to know that tobacco and smoking’t the only causes of oral cancer and to realize how sex can impact their lives. Recent research indicates a link between oral cancers and the human (HPV) infection, which can be spread by oral sex.
To this brave young Mum I say, thank you for sharing your story and for helping to educate young women and men about the increased risks associated with oral sex and oral cancers.
If you have any kind of sore or other abnormality in your mouth, see your dentist immediately. He or she can perform a fast and inexpensive procedure to test for oral cancer. It takes only a few minutes and costs less than $100 — and it can save your life.
Dentist with Oral Cancer Tells His Story
The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of more “famous” cancers, such as cervical, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal, testicular, and skin (malignant melanoma).
And, oral cancer is growing at double-digit rates — despite declines in alcohol and tobacco use.
What is the cause for the increase? The spread of HPV-16 and HPV-18 via all forms of sex.
For this reason alone, oral cancer is showing up in the younger adult population — and the fastest growing group is young women.
Thus begins the introduction to New York dentist story about fighting oral cancer, he hopes that by telling his story he’ll educate dentists and patients alike — and encourage both to give and ask for oral cancer screenings.
Dr. “Tooth” noticed a “-sized mass” at the base of his tongue and a secondary tumor the size of a baseball in a lymph node in his neck. He ignored both for about six months until he asked his hygienist and then a doctor friend what they thought.
He then had an MRI — which showed he had cancer. Once he was diagnosed, he underwent five months of chemo, 33 radiation sessions, radiation implant therapy, and surgery at Beth Israel in New York.
Two years later, he’s in remission, but as he says, he’s one of the lucky ones. That’s because 78% of those diagnosed with Stage IV oral cancer are dead five years later.
Dr. “Tooth” has gone public with his story because he wants his fellow dentists to perform oral cancer screening on all patients. According to Brian Hill, president of the Oral Cancer Foundation, people diagnosed with Stage One oral cancer have an 80% to 90% survival rate.
And early detection is easily done using new technologies coupled with the ADA recommended conventional visual and tactile examination. The gold standard for detecting oral cancer continues to be biopsy.
What can you do to help lower your risk for oral cancer?
* Limit alcohol consumption and don’t smoke.
* Practice safe sex — use a condom each and every time.
* Don’t have oral sex with multiple partners as this increases your chance for oral cancer.
* Ask your dentist to screen for oral cancer each time you go in for your regular check-up.
* Most important, if you have type of suspicious sore, lesion or lump in your mouth, see your dentist. The earlier you get this problem diagnosed, the better off you’ll be.
An estimated 8,000 people die each year from oral cancer, or about one death per hour, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
How do I get tested?
Testing is a relatively easy process – simply go to your dentist and ask for an oral cancer screening. At my office, for example, which is a simple rinse that takes about 30 seconds.
As part of Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week, I’ll be offering oral cancer screenings at no cost. We have plenty of free parking, so come on by. We’ll be live Tweeting the event and look forward to meeting you!
And now, a Word about Cosmetic Dentistry . . .
“Eva” came to my Sydney office to inquire about improving her smile. As with many patients, she had wanted cosmetic dentistry for years because her teeth hadn’t aged well . . . but she kept putting it off.
Today she has a beautiful new smile that matches her face and her vibrant personality. See her before and after photo’s to see how porcelain veneers gave her the naturally beautiful smile she’s always wanted.
Like Eva, you’re never too old for cosmetic dentistry. To learn how you can dramatically improve your smile, please call Michael or Sam at our Double Bay office to schedule your private consultation:
By phone: 02 93639823
Through our Website: www.dentartistry.com.au
Please forward this newsletter to your friends and family who are also concerned about having a healthy smile.