Dentists are seeing an increase in oral cancer in young people - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/3/10

Dentists are seeing an increase in oral cancer in young people

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By Kristin Beerman | email

Edited by Jon Bush | email 

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – Some dentists are sounding the alarm because they're seeing more cases of oral cancer particularly in young people.  The reason why might surprise you because this time, tobacco is not taking the blame.

"If anything, we're seeing a rise in oral cancer and it's not due to tobacco or alcohol, it's due to HPV," said Lee Fitzgerald, D.D.S, a dentist.

A study published in the Journal Head and Neck finds there is a link between HPV and an increase in cases of a certain oral cancer.  Dr. Fitzgerald says he can see the lesions with this new machine called the Identafi 3000, which uses various wave lengths of light.

"Kids think oral sex is not sex and it doesn't have the same potential outcomes, that it's ok. Well, it's not okay because you can die from this," said Kim Agee, the wife of an oral cancer patient.

We know HPV, or the Human Papilloma Virus can lead to cervical cancer, but it can also lead to cancers of the mouth. The Fight Oral Cancer Foundation warns that oral cancer kills one person every hour.  If you survive, it can be disfiguring since chunks of the cheek, tongue or jaw may have to be removed.  The Fight Oral Cancer Foundation suggests everyone ask for an oral cancer screening at their next dental check-up.

"You can save your child's life by talking openly about HPV and oral cancer and the connection between the two," said Arma Shahidi Fitzgerald, with the Fight Oral Cancer Foundation.

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