Oral Cancer’s Surprising Cause
It used to be that oral cancer was mainly caused by a lifetime of smoking, drinking, or both. While these habits will still certainly increase your likelihood of contracting oral cancer, they are unfortunately no longer the leading cause.
The presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV) is now found in up to 50% of new cases of oral cancer, and brings this devastating disease to a new part of the population. Creative Dental Solutions in Bangor wants to give you all the information and tools you need to get your mouth and overall systems as healthy as possible.
HPV and Oral Cancer
HPV is most commonly thought of as a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that causes genital warts and can lead to cervical cancer, but it is much more complicated than that. There are over 40 different types that can present in a variety of ways; however, in a whopping 90% of cases the body’s immune system clears the infection without any symptoms whatsoever.
According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 20 million Americans are infected with HPV right now and another 6 million new people are infected each year. They also estimate that at least 50% of sexually active men and women contract it at some point in their lives.
Unfortunately, the vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix are targeted to the types of HPV that lead to cervical cancer, and do not protect against those that lead to head and neck cancers. Even worse, standard STI tests do not screen for HPV, and people often don’t even know they have it until something worse develops. Right now, the best way to detect oral HPV is through a salivary diagnostic test such as the OraRisk test from Oral DNA Labs.
There are also several technologies that Dr. Sevey & Dr. Haluska may use to help screen for oral cancer such as the tissue fluorescence devices VELscope and ViziLite, which allow detection to be quick, easy and painless. We may also use a simple brush biopsy, which lightly scrapes cells off a suspected lesion to be analyzed in a laboratory.
If you have any questions or concerns about HPV or oral cancer, please contact Creative Dental Solutions today or mention them at your next appointment. Dr. Sevey & Dr. Haluska and our staff want to do everything they can to prevent you from having to endure the disfiguring and deadly effects of oral cancer.