April is Oral Cancer Awareness month. Oral cancer screenings are a regular part of our Philadelphia area Dental Office dental checkups. At every check up we examine the tongue, gums, cheeks, lips, palate, floor of the mouth and the pharynx for any signs of abnormalities.
In 2010, the National Cancer Institute estimated that 36,540 people were diagnosed with oral cancer, resulting in 7880 deaths. The five-year survival rate for those diagnosed early is 75% compared to a 20% survival rate once the cancer has spread.
The American Dental Association and nine other organizations are going to bat to encourage Major League Baseball to go tobacco free beginning in 2012. The groups sent a letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and MLB Players Association asking them to “prohibit the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco by players, coaches, managers and other team personnel at all Major League venues. Tobacco use is of course the #1 cause of oral cancer.
Use of tobacco products has been banned at the minor league level since 1993, but as many as 30% of professional players at the major league level still use some form of tobacco. Statistics show that smokeless tobacco product use has increased by 36% since 2003. An estimated 15% of high school boys currently use smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco is known to cause cancers of the mouth, lip, tongue, and pancreas. Users also may be at risk for cancer of the voice box, esophagus, colon, and bladder.
Hall of Famer, Tony Gwynn recently underwent treatment for cancer of the salivary gland, attributed to his use of smokeless tobacco.
For more information go to www.tobaccofreebaseball.org.