Here are three facts every dental professional needs to know about this often misunderstood disease.
1. Up to 75% of cases of oral cancer may be attributed to tobacco and alcohol use.
2. The overall prevalence of oral HPV infection (a causitive agent of OC) is estimated to be 6.9% in adults aged 14 to 69 years. However, HPV prevalence can be as high as 20% for persons who have more than 20 lifetime sexual partners or currently use tobacco (more than 1 pack of cigarettes per day).
3. The prevalence of type-specific HPV-16 oral infection is estimated at 1% in adults aged 14 to 69 years. Human papillomavirus-16 is associated with approximately 85% to 95% of cases of HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer. Therefore, the increasing role of oral HPV infection as a risk factor for oropharyngeal cancer may warrant future assessment of the independent effect of HPV-16 on incidence and outcomes of oropharyngeal cancer and the health effect of screening persons who are HPV-16-positive.
Given these facts, shouldn’t you be doing a comprehensive oral cancer examination on every patient at every visit? Anything less puts your patient at risk.