A recent news article has highlighted the increase in rates of oral cancer among men in the United States. The report published by an independent non-profit health organisation called FAIR Health used data collected from 21 billion privately billed medical and dental claims.

The research found that the incidence of oral cancer in men has increased 61% from the years 2011 to 2015, with the highest rates of increase found in throat and tongue cancers. The results also showed a significant gender bias with the rate of oral cancer almost three times as high in men compared to women with a difference of 74% to 26% respectively.

Smoking is a leading risk factor for the incidence of mouth cancers. Despite falling smoking rates among both genders, the rate of oral cancer is still increasing and researchers have proposed that there may be a link between changing sexual practices, infection with the HPV (human papillomavirus) and oral cancer. US actor Michael Douglas was asked in an interview if he blamed his throat cancer to a lifetime of drinking and smoking, to which he replied “No, because without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV.”

Dr Selvan Dass and Dr Rakesh Bhula of Griffith Street Family Dental attended a continuing education evening earlier in the week, where they were both able to speak to a local oral and maxillofacial surgeon who told them that most oral cancers are painless. So it is possible for patients to have them and not be aware of it.

Rakesh, having worked as a maxillofacial house surgeon in Auckland NZ, at Greenlane hospital’s head and neck cancer clinic, has seen first had the devastating effects oral cancer can have on patients. “The patients I had helped to treat were on the severe end of the spectrum, usually requiring major surgery which involved cutting out parts of the neck, jaw, nose and roof of the mouth. Unfortunately this leads to a major decrease in the quality of life for the patients.”

Here at Griffith Street Family Dental we treat our patients as a whole. That means we take a proactive approach with our dental examinations, checking not only the teeth, but also all the soft tissues in the mouth for any abnormalities. Along with oral health therapist Cheryll Dunn, Dr Selvan Dass and Dr Rakesh Bhula check the lips, tongue, cheeks, roof and floor of the mouth, gums and throat at every dental examination appointment. Patients can be rest assured they are in safe hands at Griffith Street Family Dental.