March 5, 2013

What Is The Silent Killer?

Close to 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the silent killer this year.  It will cause over 8,000 deaths, killing about one person per hour, every hour of every day.  Of those 40,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half, or approximately 57%, will be alive in five years.

What is this silent killer?  Oral cancer!  The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we hear about routinely, such as cervical cancer, laryngeal cancer, or lung cancer, and so on.

Statistics show that a younger age group, including those who have never used any tobacco products, is being diagnosed with oral cancer.  There is a viral based cause, the human papilloma virus, particularly version 16, which has been shown to be sexually transmitted between partners, and is conclusively implicated in the increasing incidence of young non-smoking oral cancer patients.  This is the same virus, along with other similar viruses, that is the cause of 90% of cervical cancers.  The Oral Cancer Foundation’s data in the last few years suggests that this virus may even be replacing tobacco as the primary cause of oral cancer in people under the age of 50.

Early stage oral cancer is often painless and goes undetected.  If dentists and patients wait until symptoms arise, sadly it might be too late.  Over the last few years technology with oral cancer screening has become more advanced.  At Tavormina Dentistry we offer  the Vizilite oral cancer screening test.  Many of our patients tell us the small fee is worth the peace of mind and they appreciate that we offer this diagnostic life-saving tool.

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