Can You Get Oral Cancer at Any Age?

General & Cosmetic Dentists Serving Omaha, Bellevue, Lincoln and Nearby Nebraska

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Posted: April 15, 2024
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oral cancerApril is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and we believe that marks the perfect occasion to answer a common question about this disease. Oral cancer affects over 50,000 Americans every year, and while it may not be as prevalent as other types of cancer, it is often overlooked and not diagnosed early — when it’s most responsive to treatment. To help you recognize the signs and stay safe, we want to address the common question, “Can you get oral cancer at any age?”

Average Age of Oral Cancer Diagnosis

The average age of someone diagnosed with oral cancer is 64, according to data from The American Cancer Society. The organization also estimates that 58,450 new cases of oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer will occur in 2024, leading to a predicted 12,230 deaths. 

The most commonly affected areas are the throat, tongue, tonsils, gums, floor of the mouth, and oropharynx (the part of the throat behind the mouth).

While it may be more common among seniors, one in five cases (20%) occur in adults under 55. It is also twice as likely to affect men than women.

Why Does Oral Cancer Risk Increase With Age? 

Risk factors like heavy alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and carrying the human papillomavirus (HPV) all contribute to a higher risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancer. As people age, the impacts of these factors can become more prevalent. Furthermore, cellular changes and weakened immune systems can elevate the risk of developing cancer over 50.

Is Oral Cancer Preventable? 

In many cases, yes. Avoiding tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, and reducing your chances of developing HPV can help. The most important thing to do is regularly see your dentist for an oral cancer screening. If they detect abnormal tissue in your mouth, they can collect a sample and send it to a lab for a biopsy. They can also help guide you on next steps if you have precancerous or cancerous cells.

Oral cancer is most treatable in early stages, so routine screenings are key to protecting your health.

Schedule a Screening With The Dentists of Omaha

Visit us in Omaha, Nebraska, for an oral cancer screening and dental exam. One of our doctors would be happy to answer your questions and help you address any personal risk factors you may have.

Please call us or contact us online. We have offices in Hillsborough (402-445-4647), Village Pointe (402-505-7474), Ralston Square (402-733-4441), and Dundee (402-502-5593).

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