Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Oropharyngeal Cancer?????

Oral Cancer Screening and Awareness

Have you ever heard of oropharyngeal?  I had not, the word that followed it was, unfortunately, very familiar.  CANCER!  Oropharyngeal cancer is cancer of the mouth and throat.  This type of cancer used to limited mostly to those who had environmental or behavioral causes such as mining work or smoking.  Now, this type of cancer is affecting more people than ever, and I would have never guessed why.

Between 1988 and 2008, there has been a 200% increase.  The major cause of this increase is...WAIT FOR IT...the HPV virus.  I had no idea! The HPV type 16/18 is the culprit.  First, let us talk a little about HPV.  The Human Papillomavirus is a virus that is thought to only be transmitted through sexual contact, but it is actually a skin to skin transmitted disease.  Therefore, a slight injury to your mouth can become an access point for the virus.  This particular type, HPV 16/18, is branded for its correlation for oral cancer.   This is known as HPV+OPC (Human Papillomavirus positive Oropharyngeal Cancer).

An estimated 80% of the male population has been exposed to HPV.  The Center for Disease Control state that 70 million people have HPV and 14 new infections happen each year.  90%  of HPV strains will clear on their own in about 2 years with little to no side effects.  This leaves 10% of strains that can lay dormant until they progress to cancer, which includes HPV 16/18.

Oropharyngeal cancer affects your mouth and throat including your tonsils, tongue, and soft palate (the soft part behind the roof of your mouth).  IF caught early there is an 80%-90% survival rate, and treatment is less invasive.  Unfortunately, because of the lack of awareness, most oral cancer is not found until the later stages.  At this point traditional cancer treatments are necessary, which may include surgery and radiation.  The scariest part to me is that 45% will DIE within five years of this late diagnosis.  

During those five years, if YOU were diagnosed in stage III or IV, you may have to undergo several types of treatment that can be life altering.  Surgery and radiation are the most common treatments.  Radiotherapy can cause the following side effects:
 Sore mouth/throat
Dry mouth (xerostomia)
Pain when swallowing
Change in taste and smell
Susceptibility to decay and destruction of teeth and gums
Necessary tooth removal

So what do we do????  Ask Dr. Mazzuchelli for an oral cancer screening! These early detection screenings should be done annually.  They are quick and painless and can be done during your regular scheduled dental checkups.  One American dies every hour from oral cancer.  PLEASE call us to make your appointment that could possibly save your life!    770-973-6520

Brady, L. A. (2014, April 1). Cancer is a scary word. Dentaltown, 15, 48,50,52.

. (2013, November 22). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 13, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdFact-HPVandoralcancer.htm

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