California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Oral cancer affects more than might be expected

April is Oral Cancer Awareness month, and many people are unaware that more than just tobacco users are predisposed to the disease.

“Everybody thinks this is a rare disease, but it is not,” said Brian Hill, founder of the Oral Cancer Foundation. “If you get this, you’re really in a battle for your life. This disease is really a killer.”

Hill survived a 13-year battle with oral cancer, and he was never a smoker. He founded the Oral Cancer Foundation to raise awareness because there are many more risk factors than tobacco use.

According to Hill, one person dies every hour of every day from oral cancer, and 115 new people are diagnosed each day.

He also stresses that more young people are being diagnosed with oral cancer, contradicting the belief that the disease usually affects older generations.

“Today the faster growing segment is young, non-smoking people getting it from the HPV virus. That virus is transmitted through oral sex,” said Hill.

Jeannette Tokuyama, doctor of dental surgery in Simi Valley, Calif., agrees that there are several factors that could be linked to oral cancer, including tobacco and HPV.

“Drinking, smoking, chewing tobacco and family history are the major factors,” said Tokuyama. “But that doesn’t mean that those are the only type of people that can get oral cancer.”

According to Tokuyama, depending on the level and what stage the cancer is in when diagnosed, one could end up needing radiation treatment, and the cancer can spread to other parts of the body if it is not removed.

On average, only 60 percent of those diagnosed will survive for more than five years.

“Oral cancer is pretty invasive, and it progresses very rapidly,” said Tokuyama. “The key thing is detection because it can go pretty fast.”

Some students at California Lutheran University were shocked to hear that tobacco use is not the only risk factor for oral cancer.

“The most common one I would think of would be when people do dip and stuff like that,” said senior Alyssa Peters. “I don’t necessarily know the aspects about oral cancer, but I’m not surprised of the consequences from oral sex and stuff.”

Peters said she thinks people need to be more aware that this type of cancer affects so many lives.

“It’s something that we don’t think about like as that big of a problem,” said Peters.  “I think we need to raise awareness with that age group and make sure that they are informed. As well as informing the college communities, we have to start even younger.”

She also thinks that it is a good idea for people to learn about all of the risks and causes of oral cancer.

Rola Hawatmeh, senior and co-president of the Pre-Dental Club at CLU, recommends that people take care of their mouth and teeth just like they take care of the rest of their body.

“If you’re not taking care of your teeth, then you’re more prone to getting some kind of oral issue,” said Hawatmeh. “Just like you shower daily, you should be cleaning your mouth every day and flossing.”

Hawatmeh stresses that students should see the dentist regularly.

“Go to the dentist because there are things that they can see that you can’t see,” said Hawatmeh.


Heather Ford
Staff Writer
Published April 17, 2013

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Echo Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *