Oral Cancer Prevention Quick Tips

Oral Cancer Prevention Quick Tips keep dental clinic teams motivated to make sustainable changes so more American Indian and Alaska Native patients are screened for oral cancer. These tips provide ways to decrease oral cancer risk factors, screening information, resources, and success stories from other clinics.

Healthy People 2020 Oral Cancer Goals

Healthy People 2020 is an oral cancer prevention campaign that aims to:

  • Increase the number of oral and pharyngeal cancers detected at the earliest stage
  • Increase the number of adults who receive information from a dentist or dental hygienist that focuses on reducing tobacco use or smoking cessation
  • Increase the number of adults who receive an oral and pharyngeal cancer screening from a dentist or dental hygienist

Our team can help your clinic reach these goals by 2020. Please contact health@aicaf.org to learn more about AICAF's oral cancer prevention training and educational resources.

Implementing the 5A's can help lower tobacco use

Commercial tobacco use can increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Across Minnesota, data shows 59% of American Indian and Alaska Native people use commercial tobacco.

The 5A's (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, and Arrange) are helpful for dental clinic staff when addressing tobacco cessation. When implemented in clinics, the 5A's can create sustainable changes so that more Native patients using commercial tobacco are supported on their quitting journey. The 5A's have been shown to increase cessation rates substantially - utilizing this strategy with patients may increase quit rates by 30%.

Please contact health@aicaf.org if your dental clinic would like assistance implementing the 5A's.

Human Papillomavirus can cause oral cancer

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted virus and infection in the United States. A person can have HPV for many years, even decades, before it is detected or develops into a serious condition like cancer. While there are nearly 200 different strains of HPV, HPV 16 is the one that can lead to oral cancer. This strain is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer, which occurs in the very back of the mouth and base of the tongue. HPV 16 is found in roughly 2 out of 3 oropharyngeal cancers.

The good news is that HPV can be prevented through immunization. The HPV vaccine is recommended for preteen boys and girls at age 11 or 12. Clinic teams can help prevent oral cancer by advising patients to get the vaccine for their children.

Please contact health@aicaf.org if your clinic would like resources about HPV for cancer prevention.

What puts us at risk for oral cancer?

The following risk factors increase the chances of developing oral cancer:

  • Commercial tobacco use: most cases of oral cancers are linked to tobacco use
  • Alcohol use: alcohol and tobacco use further exacerbates oral cancer risks
  • Human Papillomavirus: HPV 16 has been linked to oral cancers
  • Age: risk increases with age
  • Sun exposure: lip cancer can be caused by excessive sun exposure
  • Diet: diets low in fruits and vegetables can play a role in oral cancer

Dental clinic teams should discuss the risk factors with patients at every visit. Please contact health@aicaf.org if your clinic would like resources about about ways to reduce oral cancer risk factors.

Thank you for reading!

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