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Dental and Oral Health Center

Oral Cancer in a Non-Smoker

09/28/2010

Question:

I`ve never smoked or used tobacco products. Should I be worried about developing oral cancer?

Answer:

Oral cancer is a relatively rare condition and the majority of affected patients (75-80 %) have a history of smoking cigarettes, using excessive amounts fo alcohol (more than 2 drinks per day) or both. So although I would suggest that you have little to worry about regarding oral cancer, you are also not immune from this disease. Many investigators around the world are trying to determine other possible causes or factors related to the development of oral cancer but no consensus has been reached to date.

My recommendation is for an annual examination by your dentist or a dental specialist to look for any and all forms of oral disease, including oral cancer. At best, periodic examination of the mouth is a very inexpensive form of insurance that can also give you peace of mind. At worst, routine examination should permit anything serious to be detected at an early stage of development.

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
Associate Dean of Dentistry Administration
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University