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The Oral Cancer Foundation has designated April as Oral Cancer Awareness Month, so Sossaman Family Dental is helping Mesa, Arizona, get information about this terrible disease. Oral cancer claims the lives of more than 9,500 people every year. Knowing its risk factors can lead to earlier screening and saved lives.

Historically, oral cancer has been most common in adults over 40, and one feature common to many of them is tobacco use. Tobacco is an oral health nightmare, destroying teeth and gums. It also greatly increases the risk of developing oral cancer. All types of tobacco are linked to the disease. Tobacco use may be one explanation of why oral cancer is more common in men than women, rates have been evening out in more recent years. Alcohol use acts synergistically with tobacco, exasperating negative effects and making a user of both 15 times more likely to develop oral cancer than one who doesn’t. Add oral cancer to you list of reasons to quit smoking and drinking.

While tobacco has been (and continues to be) a leading cause of oral cancer, human papilloma virus may be taking its place. It is contributing to more young people developing oral cancer. HPV is a common sexually transmitted virus that comes in hundreds of varieties. While most are harmless, the HPV16 strain can cause cancer in people with a lack of immune response to it, roughly 1% of those infected.

There are other risk factors, such as UV exposure, and not all are fully understood or accepted. The Oral Cancer Foundation has expert information about the disease at www.oralcancer.org. You can also call us at 480-359-1464 with questions or to schedule an appointment with our doctors.