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Smoking and Oral Cancer

Smoking has long been associated with higher lung and oral cancer risk. According to the American Lung Association, nearly half million deaths are attributed to smoking and second hand smoke in the US. In addition to oral and lung cancer risk, smokers face multiple other health complications including dry mouth, dental disease, asthma, COPD, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression.

While cigarette use has declined in the US over the last 40 years, the rates of oral and oropharyngeal cancer rates have risen in the same time period. These opposing trends are attributed to the rise in E-cigarette use and oral HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) infection. Currently, the E-cigarette industry is a $2.5B a year industry. The wide variety of flavors attract young kids as early as age 11. Younger users mean longer lifespan exposure to the potential cancer-causing chemicals that lead earlier incidences of oro-pharyngeal and esophageal cancers in today’s youth.

Human papilloma virus (HPV), a very common sexually transmitted disease, has been identified in the oral and oropharyngeal regions in younger people. The HPV-16 strain has been detected in 2/3 of all oropharyngeal cancers and is a rising concern in the dental world. Even though the dental professional is positioned perfectly during your dental visits to screen for early detection of these cancers, oral and oropharyngeal cancers are difficult to detect and even more difficult to treat.

Ueno Center Dental Specialists are committed to thorough oral cancer screening and early detection. Our oral cancer screening includes the following:

1. Complete manual intraoral examination for lumps, bumps and tenderness in the mouth, head and neck regions

2. HPV-16 detection using cutting-edge salivary diagnostics (Adjunct service)

3. The use of bioluminescent technologies to detect abnormal cell growth not visible to the naked eye (Adjunct service)

4. Thorough social history intake to determine risk factors

5. Tissue biopsy as needed to definitively evaluate suspicious findings.

Utilizing this five-step approach will allow our providers to determine the presences of risk factors, the presence of HPV-16 and any abnormal growths in the head, neck and mouth. When indicated, a biopsy will be performed to give definitive diagnosis. Ueno Center’s approach to oral cancer is among the nation’s leaders in early oral cancer detection.