Fewer people are smoking and dipping these days, and it's paying off with fewer cases of oral cancer.
However, there's a growing danger from a different source, human papillomavirus.
"In fact, they're estimated there will be about 53,000 new cases this year," said Dr. Kevin Tulipana, regional medical officer at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
Dr. Tulipana is seeing more patients come in with oral cancer caused by the virus that's transmitted through sexual contact and even deep kissing.
The only protection is the HPV vaccine, now given to boys and girls between age nine up to 26.
"If you've not been vaccinated and you fall outside that window, it's very important you undergo screening," Dr. Tulipana said.
He says talk to your dentist about oral screening and call your doctor if you see these warning signs:
- a sore throat or sore that doesn't go away
- lump or bump in tongue or mouth
"We have a surgeon, Dr. Kim, who specializes in facial, head and neck reconstructive surgery here," Dr. Tulipana said. "So, if there is a need to do a biopsy or extensive resection, you want to seek out an expert who's used to taking care of that type of thing."
HPV is known to cause cervical cancer. Thanks to early detection and the vaccine, fewer women are being diagnosed. Doctors expect fewer than 11,000 cases this year.
If you would like to learn more about Cancer Treatment Centers of America, click here.
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