Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April 12, 2018

Being that April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we should discuss the risks that tobacco users face. Both cigarettes and chewing tobacco greatly increase an individual’s chance of developing oral or throat cancers. Studies have shown that smokers are 3 times more likely to develop mouth cancer and 7 times more likely to develop throat cancer than non-smokers. Each year, The Oral Cancer Foundation  approximates 48,250 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed and that 9,575 people die each year due to these forms of cancer. With the combined use of Tobacco and the consumption of alcohol, this is one of the biggest risk factors for oral cancer.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of oral cancer can increase your chances of early detection. Some early symptoms are sores or areas of discoloration on the tongue, gums, throat, or other oral tissues. While certain red or white patches may have causes other than oral cancer, all of this should be mentioned to your oral health care provider. With signs of throat cancer, symptoms are not always easily visible, such as a constant sore throat, a hoarse voice or trouble swallowing. If anything seems out of the ordinary make sure to call your dentist and have the area evaluated.

We see patients frequently who are able to quit smoking but then start chewing tobacco instead. A common misconception is that smokeless tobacco is safer than cigarettes, but it contains twice as much nicotine as the average cigarette and increases your risk of oral cancer by 4 times! Many people also choose to go to e-cigarettes or vaping when quitting tobacco use. This is also very harmful. They contain Nicotine, flavoring agents and more than 7,000 additional chemicals than traditional cigarettes.  (see our March blog for more info on e-cigarettes and vaping here)

If you are a tobacco user of any kind it is important to be diligent in looking for symptoms on your own, as well as maintaining regular oral check-ups. At Safe Harbor Smiles oral cancer screenings are a part of our exam protocol and tissues are evaluated at each hygiene visit.



“Risk Factors” http://www.mouthcancer.org/risk-factors/

“Tobacco Connection”http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/tobacco/

“Oral Cancer Signs and Symptoms” http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/cancer/article/sw-281474979045900

“Tobacco and Addiction”http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/tobacco/tobacco-addiction.php


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