Oral Cancer Screening

Risk Factors of Oral Cancer


Men are twice more likely to get oral cancer. The American Cancer Society attributes this to higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use by men, but says more men of a younger age are being diagnosed with HPV-related forms of oral cancer.


Most people who are diagnosed with oral cancer are 55 or older, according to the American Cancer Society. HPV-related oral cancers, however, are often diagnosed in people who are younger.


Whether you smoke it or chew it, tobacco use increases your risk dramatically. Smoking can cause oral cancer, as well as cancer in other parts of the body. Pipe smokers are also at a higher risk for developing cancer in their lips. Smokeless tobacco, like chew, can lead to many issues in your mouth, the most serious being cancer of the cheeks, gums, and lips.


According to the American Cancer Society, 7 of 10 oral cancer patients are heavy drinkers. Heavy drinking, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is an average of two drinks a day or more for men and an average of more than one drink a day for women. If you are a heavy drinker and a heavy smoker, your chances of developing oral cancer increase significantly.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV):

The sexually transmitted disease is now associated with about 9,000 cases of head and neck cancer (specifically those occurring at the back of the tongue, in or around the tonsils) diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the CDC. People who are diagnosed with HPV-related head and neck cancer tend to be younger and nonsmokers. People with HPV-positive cancers have a lower risk of death or recurrence, even though these cancers are often diagnosed at a later stage because it develops in difficult-to-detect areas.​


People who have jobs working outside are more prone to developing lip cancer and should use UV protection.


Poor nutrition also may put you at risk for developing oral cancer. A diet low in fruits and vegetables may increase your chance of developing oral cancer.​

Additional Information

Head and neck cancer, including oral cancer, cancer of the larynx, and cancer of the pharynx, is the sixth most common type of cancer, with approximately 643,000 worldwide cases reported annually.

About 40% of tumors diagnosed in the head and neck area are diagnosed as squamous-cell carcinoma.The five year survival rate for these kinds of oral cancer ranges from 81% (patients with localized disease), 42% (with regional disease), and 17% (patients with metastasis. This rate has remained very high and relatively constant in recent decades.

We are using the VELscope in our office as an oral cancer-screening device. It does not diagnose cancer, but is an adjunct to the oral examination. It is, however, according with our experience, a fantastic non-invasive screening device. We personally do not charge a separate fee for the VELscope because we do not want cost to enter the patient’s decision as to whether or not to have the exam.