For many years the profile of an at-risk patient for oral cancer was a male smoker over the age of 40. But now, their is a group of individuals who’s cancer rate is increasing faster than the old model and it has everyone concerned. Oral and head and neck cancer is increasing in men and women in their 20’s and 30’s. The cause is HPV. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that infects about 40 million Americans. Epithelial cells in the oral cavity are identical to those in the cervix. Women with a positive annual PAP can be screened for this factor correlating their risk with oral cancer. Additionally, their sexual partners should be screened. It is also know that alcohol and tobacco actually promote the invasion of HPV into the oral tissues.
Early detection is the key. It increases the survival rate dramatically. Our protocol is that upon every re-care appointment we complete a visual and tactile exam. Once a year we recommend an adjunct exam with our Velscope. (more to come on this, but if you can’t wait please visit http://www.velscope.com/default.aspx?id=0&cat=patients)