Practicing safe sex is important in the prevention of oral cancer, and it's hoped that the HPV vaccine will reduce the number of people getting oral cancer in the future. The HPV vaccine is recommended for children between the ages of 11 and 12, but can be given as young as age 9, or as late as age 26.
Visiting your dentist regularly may aid in the early detection of oral cancer. Your dentist is trained to look and feel for signs of the disease. Oral cancer screening involves visual examination of the mouth and dental x-rays. Newer screening tools like VELscope allow doctors to thoroughly look for signs of oral cancer that may not be visible to the naked eye. These newer screening tools are highly recommended for those who are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer, like those who smoke or consume alcohol.
For 18 months I saw dentists, oral surgeons, family doctors, ENT’s, and emergency medicine doctors (both in the USA and the UK). They all called it ‘burning mouth syndrome’ and prescribed antibiotics, mouthwashes and anti-fungal creams. After begging for a biopsy, I got the call – it was cancer. I had surgery on my tongue but no chemo, radiation or neck dissection was needed. It was 2005. In 2010, I had pain in the same area which was dysplasia and they performed laser surgery on the same spot to ensure they got it all. In 2012, I had the same complaint of pain and a new spot. Dysplasia was diagnosed again but required no further treatment. Two months later, I complained of a spot and discomfort. They lasered it again. We need more time and attention devoted to oral cancer research. My story is not over!