Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Screening and Risk Reduction

Did you know that oral, head and neck cancer is the sixth most common form of cancer in the world?

Arising in the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, thyroid and salivary glands, throat or larynx (voice box), more than 100,000 cases (including thyroid cancer) are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

Screening

  • Get screened. It’s simple and only takes a few minutes! The doctor visually examines your head, neck, nose, mouth and throat for abnormalities.
  • Regular dental check-ups and routine oral exams are also important in finding early any signs of these cancers and pre-cancers.

Risk factors

  • Tobacco - all tobacco products are linked to head and neck cancer
  • Alcohol - drinking any type of alcohol raises the risk of getting cancers of the mouth, throat and voice box
  • Sun exposure - a major cause of cancer on the lips
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection - about 70 percent of cancers in the oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) are linked to HPV, a common sexually-transmitted virus
  • Epstein-Barr virus exposure - raises the risk of cancers in the nose, behind the nose and cancers of the salivary glands

Reduce your risk

  • Know your risk factors and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns
  • Do not smoke or use any tobacco
  • Limit alcohol
  • Under age 46, talk to you doctor about HPV Vaccines. Reducing your risk of HPV infection is important. The HPV vaccine works best when given before any exposure to HPV.
  • Visit the dentist regularly. These cancers may not be found until they cause problems. Sometimes changes are seen during a routine doctor/dentist visit.

Early detection is the best way to successful treatment of most cancers. Talk to your doctor about the importance of getting screened.