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Oral Cancer Essay

1374 words - 5 pages

Oral cancer is a devastating disease. Over eight thousand American lives are taken by oral cancer and only a fourth of these patients do not excessively drink alcohol or smoke tobacco, which are the two main causes of oral cancer (The Oral Cancer Foundation). Survival rates for oral cancer could be much higher if the population would take precautionary measures to reduce their chances of being diagnosed with oral cancer. When the use of alcohol and tobacco are decreased, the chances of acquiring oral cancer are also decreased. By visiting the dentist at least once every year, new lesions could be found. Unfortunately, only seven percent of the population, who visits the dentist regularly, receives a thorough oral cancer exam(The Oral Cancer Foundation). Therefore it is important for the patient to request an oral cancer screen if it not done. Many resources are available to those patients diagnosed with oral cancer. Once the cancer has been treated, many varied specialists will help in the transition back to daily life.
Prevention is a key component to a healthy cancer-free mouth. Males between the ages of twenty five and forty four make up the largest percentage of oral cancer patients. In 2009 the percentage of adults ,who smoked, by gender, was 23.5% of adult men to 17.9% adult women (Adult Cigarette Smoking). Tobacco chewing first became popular during the seventeenth century, when the Spaniards brought tobacco back from exploring the New World. Today it has become a worldwide epidemic (Silverman 16). Tobacco accounts for one of every five deaths in the United States yearly(Adult Cigarette Smoking). David Silverman and colleagues estimated that by the year 2020,8.4 million people will die annually from tobacco related illnesses. Besides tobacco, alcohol is a large contributor to oral cancer. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the mouth, allowing it to make the mucosa vulnerable to carcinogens or cancer causing agents (Silverman 20). Therefore people who drink are at greater risk than those who do not drink. There also appears to be a correlation between both drinking and smoking tobacco and being at a higher risk for oral cancer(Silverman13). Those who abstain from alcohol or drink and smoke separately do not seem to have the same risk as those who together drink and smoke.
Besides staying clear of unhealthy consumption of tobacco and alcohol, it is very important to have an oral examination at least once a year, to catch any newly developed lesions that may have gone unnoticed. The dentist will look for any abnormal lumps and sores and red or white patches. Survival rates are higher when cancerous cells are found at early stages (Cutter). Unfortunately, most oral cancers are not discovered early enough. Once the dentist examines the mouth, the dental hygienist, who cleans the teeth, has the opportunity to re-examine the mouth. It is the hygienist's duty to notice any peculiar areas in the mouth and bring them to the...

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