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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Oral cancer kills one person in America, every hour of every day. For newly diagnosed patients, about half will be alive in five years. Surviving this disease could mean that you’ve endured intense cancer treatments, often leaving a patient with life-long issues that can compromise the quality of life. When detected early enough, treatments and deadly outcome are lessened.

Oral cancer is not a commonly talked about “cancer”, so people do not realize how deadly it can be. Like many illnesses, our natural tendency is to think these kinds of things would never happen to us, especially if we are non-tobacco users. Think again. Oral cancer is the fastest growing cause of mouth cancers, and the rate of incidence is increasing as rapidly as a common virus. This virus is so common that most adults will be infected in their lifetime. The CDC states that virtually all Americans will be exposed to the virus in early years of sexual encounters. Only a very small number of people have an immune system that doesn’t recognize the virus as a threat, however in that small percentage of the population the virus can later prosper into cancer. There is no way to know if your immune system will protect you. The traditional risk factors of tobacco use in all its forms, and high alcohol consumption can also put you at risk for oral cancer. There is not a national screening policy for oral cancer and is typically found in the later stages, which can have a direct impact on the survival rate.

Ask Dr. Malcomson what steps she takes to protect you…

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