Oral cancer. If you had to guess how common it is, what would you say? Many of us would probably put it near the bottom of the list. Surprisingly, in 2018, together, cancers of the mouth and throat ranked sixth among the most common cancers worldwide While that’s an alarming number, there are steps that you can take to help prevent your workforce from contributing to this tragic statistic.
(1) Debunk the myths
There are a number of misconceptions about oral cancer that can stand in the way of prevention. Help educate your enrollees by providing the facts:
Myth: I’m young – I don’t need to worry about oral cancer.
Fact: Although the risk of oral cancer increases after age 50, more than 25% of diagnoses occur in adults younger than 55. In fact, a growing number of younger people are developing oral cancer, which may be linked to persistent viral infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV).
Myth: Oral cancer only affects men.
Fact: While it’s true that men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer, women are steadily closing the gap (for decades, oral cancer was six times more common in men than in women).
Myth: I don’t smoke, so I’m not at risk.
Fact: Yes, smoking is a major risk factor for oral cancer, but it’s not the only one. Excessive alcohol use and sun exposure, even without smoking, can still increase the risk.
(2) Encourage regular dentist visits
The early symptoms of oral cancers often go unnoticed, making them particularly dangerous. That’s why encouraging enrollees to have regular dental exams is so important. Dentists and dental hygienists may be able to identify the signs and symptoms of oral cancers when they’re still in the early or even pre-cancerous stages.
Cancer screening is a part of any comprehensive adult screening with a Delta Dental dentist. This screening is noninvasive and doesn’t involve radiation.
(3) Share the risks and warning signs
Awareness is the key to prevention. That’s why we’ve created shareable resources to help you spread the word about oral cancer on our SmileWay® Wellness site. Encourage your enrollees to check out these articles:
- Risks and warning signs for oral cancer
- Oral cancer facts and myths
- Reasons to get an oral cancer screening
Want more wellness tips like these? Subscribe to Word of Mouth, our newsletter for benefits administrators, human resources professionals and businesses.
Are you a broker, agent or consultant? Subscribe to Insider Update, our newsletter for benefits producers.