Posts for tag: Oral Cancer
While sports like football, basketball and soccer have exploded in popularity over the last few decades, many Americans still have a soft spot for the granddaddy of them all: baseball. While technology has changed many aspects of the game, many of its endearing traditions live on.
Unfortunately, one baseball tradition isn’t so endearing and definitely hazardous to health—tobacco, primarily the smokeless variety. Players and coaches alike, even down to the high school level, have promoted or at least tolerated its use.
But there are signs this particular baseball tradition is losing steam. Not long ago, the San Francisco Giants became the first major league baseball team to prohibit tobacco in its home stadium—on the field as well as in the stands. The move was largely in response to a law passed by the City of San Francisco, but it does illustrate a growing trend to discourage tobacco use in baseball.
While smoking, chewing or dipping tobacco can certainly impact a person’s overall health, it can be especially damaging to the teeth, gums and mouth. Our top oral health concern with tobacco is cancer: Research has shown some correlation between tobacco use (especially smokeless) and a higher risk of oral cancer.
You need look no further than the highest ranks of baseball itself to notice a link between tobacco and oral cancer. Although from different eras, Babe Ruth and Tony Gwynn, both avid tobacco users, died from oral cancer. Other players like pitcher Curt Schilling have been diagnosed and treated for oral cancer.
Cancer isn’t the only threat tobacco poses to oral health. The nicotine in tobacco can constrict blood vessels in the mouth; this in turn reduces the normal flow of nutrients and disease-fighting immune cells to the teeth and gums. As a result, tobacco users are much more susceptible to contracting tooth decay and gum disease than non-users, and heal more slowly after treatment.
That’s why it’s important, especially in youth baseball, to discourage tobacco use on the field. While most of baseball’s traditions are worthy of preservation, the chapter on tobacco needs to close.
Your regular dental checkups should periodically include an important screening for oral cancer, especially as you grow older. Although oral cancers make up less than 3% of all other types, they’re among the most deadly with a 58% survival rate after five years.
Besides hereditary factors, oral cancer is strongly linked to tobacco use, alcohol abuse or diets low in fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s also a greater concern as we age: 90% of new cases of oral cancer occur in people over the age of 40, heightening the need for regular screenings. These screenings become all the more important because many early sores or lesions can mimic other conditions like canker sores — without early detection, the disease could already be in advanced stages when it’s diagnosed.
An oral screening for cancer involves both sight and touch. We’ll first look for any suspicious lesions and red or white patches in the soft tissues of the face, neck, lips and mouth. We’ll then feel for any abnormal lumps on the mouth floor, the sides of the neck and in gland locations. We’ll also examine all sides of the tongue including underneath, as well as the tissues lining the back of your throat.
If we notice anything that’s concerning we may then perform a biopsy by removing a small bit of the suspicious tissue and have it examined microscopically for the presence of cancer cells. We may also remove any lesions deemed pre-cancerous as an added precaution against possible cancer development.
The American Cancer Society recommends an oral cancer screening annually for people forty years or older and every three years for people between the ages of 20 and 39. Even better, we recommend all adults undergo a screening every year. This, along with ending tobacco use and other lifestyle and dietary changes, will greatly improve your chances of remaining free of oral cancer.
If you would like more information on detecting and treating oral cancer, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”
Cancer awareness is a big part of our culture these days, and knowing its signs and symptoms can help save your life. Oral cancer, however, can be difficult to detect in its early stages. That's why Dr. Jeffrey Pike, your dentist in Scarsdale, NY, offers oral cancer screenings as part of your regular dental checkups. It's a quick and painless examination that only takes a few minutes. Below, The Scarsdale Dentist has outlined some of the symptoms that could indicate oral cancer or precancerous conditions are developing.
What does oral cancer look like in the early stages?
Early signs of oral cancer can be very subtle. It's typically painless and often flat, appearing as a reddened or whitish area on the inside of the cheeks, under the tongue, on the roof of the mouth or even in the throat. These patches are persistent and do not heal within a week or two like normal lesions. There may be a bump or the skin may feel thickened. It's important to remember that many other benign, or non-cancerous, conditions can cause similar symptoms, so contacting your Scarsdale dentist for an evaluation is essential not only for early diagnosis, but for your peace of mind as well.
What causes oral cancer?
Like many other cancers, the exact causes of oral cancer aren't well understood. However, there are certain factors that increase your risk. As you can probably guess, oral cancer is much more likely for people with a history of smoking or usage of other tobacco products, especially those that are designed to be held in the mouth for long periods of time. Long-term alcohol use can also increase the likelihood of developing oral cancer.
To schedule an oral cancer screening at The Scarsdale Dentist, or for any other questions, contact Dr. Jeffrey Pike's office in Scarsdale, NY today!