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Mar 23, 2010

Tips for Oral Cancer Awareness Month

More than 35,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 8,000 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 35,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years. This is a number which has not significantly improved in decades. The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we hear about routinely such as cervical cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and endocrine system cancers such as thyroid, or skin cancer (malignant melanoma). If you expand the definition of oral cancers to include cancer of the larynx, for which the risk factors are the same, the numbers of diagnosed cases grow to 45,000 individuals, and 12,500 deaths per year in the US alone. Worldwide the problem is much greater, with over 600,000 new cases being found each year.

HPV and Oral Cancer-Preventative Tips for Oral Cancer Awareness Month, from Practitioner Dr. Kevin Boehm, DDS

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. This year alone over 34,000-estimated new oral cancer or pharyngeal (throat) cancer cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. Unfortunately, the death rate associated with oral cancer has now surpassed the rate of cervical cancer in women over the past few years. An estimated 50% of Americans do not visit their dentist regularly or at all, plus, the disease is routinely discovered too late in development. Put all these factors together and a scary public health disaster appears on the horizon. Dr. Kevin Boehm, DDS offers the following information and preventative tips for oral cancer in honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month.

Oral Cancer Information:

#Risk Factors-Risk factors associated with oral cancer are:

a) Ethanol from drinking alcoholic beverages,
b) HPV or Human Papilloma Virus infection.
c) Smoking or chewing tobacco products, and

# Strands of HPV-Some sexually transmitted forms of HPV seem to pose the greatest threat to cancer formation, including HPV-16, HPV-18, HPV-31 and HPV-45. HPV-16 and HPV-18 have been shown to cause up to 95% of cervical cancer in women.

Preventative Tips:

a) Drink alcohol in moderation-Excessive alcohol consumption can be a risk factor for the disease. Also, those who drink and use tobacco have a 15 times greater risk of developing oral cancer.
b) Practice Safe Sex-If appears that most cancer related HPV's are transmitted sexually. Use of condoms to prevent spreading HPV-16 and HPV-18 is helpful, as well as limiting numbers of sexual partners.
c) Don't use tobacco- Tobacco in any form is detrimental to oral health and is a causal factor in oral cancer.
d)Visit the Dentist-Your dentist has a number of early detection techniques aside from a visual assessment such as velscope or vizilite. These use fluorescent light to pick up abnormalities. Brush biopsy techniques allow cells to be collected and sent to a laboratory to check for abnormalities under the microscope.

Please let me know if you are interested in additional information including an interview with Practitioner Dr. Boehm. For more information, please visit


Media Contact: Meredith Hutchings

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