Patients Confused By Oral Cancer Discussions on TV

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011, 2:40 pm

Television shows like Dr. Oz, The Doctors and Oprah have done a wonderful job explaining frightening health conditions to the general public. Actually I should say that most of the time these shows do a wonderful job. Because their time is limited and because of commercial interruptions the information can become disjointed and confusing for viewers.

Dr. Oz recently did a show about oral cancer and the importance of screening for the disease. Overall the show did a great job explaining how deadly this disease can be and how regular screening could save so many lives. The show also talked about risk factors for the disease. After a discussion with a patient the other day I think some of the information may have gotten confusing for viewers.

The topic of discussion was the new phenomenon of younger people getting oral cancers. This used to be a disease that would mostly appear in middle-age or older adults, primarily male and usually with a history of smoking or drinking alcohol (or both). The reason young people are showing up with the disease is HPV. The Human Papillomavirus or HPV as it is commonly called is a sexually transmitted disease that is also responsible for many cervical cancers in women.

My patient  believed that since she didn’t have HPV she could never get an oral cancer. Not true! There are many causes for cancers that we do not know about and even those who have no known risk factors have gotten the disease. The best protection is regular screening – no matter what your age. The survival rate for oral cancers that are caught early is incredibly high – unfortunately most cases are not discovered until the disease is very advanced.

Please contact our Toccoa, Georgia office today at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your appointment for your dental examination including an oral cancer screening.

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Category: oral health

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