Who’s At Risk for Oral Cancer

Close up of a mouth with UV light being used to screen for oral cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that 53,260 individuals will develop oral cancer in 2020. Unfortunately, they predict around 20 percent of those individuals won’t beat the cancer. Advancements in treatment and routine diagnostics are improving the odds of beating oral cancer, including those in the tonsils and oropharynx. At Bethea Family Dentistry, serving Columbia, SC and the nearby region, we stress the importance of routine oral cancer screenings since early detection leads to the best prognosis.


Men are more likely to develop oral cancer than women. Statistics note that 15.5 men out of 100,000 individuals will have oral cancer while only 6.1 women of 100,000 individuals will have it.


Both Hispanic and African American males are more prone to oral cancer than white males and women.


Age is a factor when considering who is most at risk for oral cancer. Typically, oral cancer rates increase with age right after the age of 50. The statistics show a peak for oral cancer cases between the ages of 60 and 70.

Tobacco Usage

Your likelihood of developing oral cancer increases if you use either smokeless or smokable tobacco products of any kind.

Sun Exposure

If you expose your lips to the sun frequently, your risk is higher than someone who doesn’t receive a great deal of sun exposure to his or her lips.

Heavy Alcohol Usage

Alcohol damages your cells, and since alcohol comes in contact with the cells in your mouth, your chance for developing oral cancer is greater if you consume heavy amounts of alcohol.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Certain forms of the human papillomavirus can cause cancer. Your risk for oral cancer is higher if you have one of these strains.

Weakened Immune System

The state of your immune system plays a role in the onset and spread of cancer. Those with a stronger immune system may be able to ward off cancer-causing cells. On the other hand, those with a compromised immune system might not be able to as well.

Oral Cancer Prevention in Columbia, SC

Schedule an appointment for a routine oral cancer screening if you have any of the risk factors. Even if you don’t, you’ll want to come in for regular preventive care. Dr. Bethea carefully screens for oral cancer during regular exams. As with all cancers, early detection is very important. Contact Bethea Family Dentistry, serving Columbia, SC and the nearby region, by calling 803-462-4554.

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