Michael Douglas to Speak Out About Oral Cancer

Updated July 5, 2012:  A recent study has further linked Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) with severe gum disease and an increased risk of head and neck cancer.   Medical News Today reported that the research found patients with HPV-positive tumors, had significantly higher bone loss, leading to the development of gum disease.  Experts are concerned that HPV, a growing cause of oral cancer, may rival tobacco use as the main cause of the disease within 10 years.  Early warning signs of mouth cancer should not be ignored.  If you experience ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches or unusual swelling or lumps in your mouth, see your dentist as soon as possible.

You may recognize the famous actor, Michael Douglas, from hit movies, such as The War of the Roses, Wall Street, and The Game.  His acting skills have found him much success on the big screen, but this summer, he will make a much more personal appearance.  Douglas has partnered with the Oral Cancer Foundation to campaign against the deadly disease, which he was diagnosed with in 2010.  The goal is to raise public awareness about risk factors and to urge the general public to have annual screenings, as early detection is the key to beating this sometimes fatal condition.  According to the Dental Tribune article, “Michael Douglas raises oral cancer awareness,” the public service announcement will begin airing across the country in June and will continue through the summer.

After discovering a tumor at the base of his tongue, the actor was diagnosed with stage IV oral cancer, which is considered very advanced.  His prognosis was not good, but Douglas opted to fight the cancer with radiation and chemotherapy and after a very long and challenging fight,  is very fortunate to be cancer-free today.  According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, the disease claims a life every four hours in the United States alone, and the numbers are growing.  In fact, it is one of the few cancers that have seen an increase in numbers in recent years.  Brian Hill, executive director and founder of the foundation, hopes that Douglas’ well-known and respected reputation will catch the attention of most viewers.  Approximately 2/3 of all fatalities are attributed to late detection and the only way to fight that figure is to educate the masses.

The causes of the disease are not entirely known, but tobacco products have been proven to increase the risk.  And while people who participate in recreational drinking and smoking on a consistent basis are at a high risk of developing oral cancer, experts claim that young non-smokers are the fastest-growing diagnosed group.  Recently, a link has been made between exposure to human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted disease responsible for cervical cancers in women, and oral cancer, which may be explanation to the latest outbreak among young people.  Aside from avoiding risk factors, early detection is the number one weapon against this deadly disease.  Visiting your dentist regularly, coupled with good oral hygiene habits will ensure you the best protection from oral cancer.

Written by Mark Paulsort

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