Surprisingly, the answer to this question is YES! The fastest growing segment of the oral cancer population is young, non-smoking individuals, very different from the historic profile of those who got oral cancer 20 years ago. The reason is the sexually transmitted Human Papilloma Virus (HPV16). If the current trend of HPV16 incidence continues, it is likely that in 10 years it will out pace tobacco as the number one cause of oral cancer. Because of this, when dentists now screen their patient populations, they no longer can easily identify who is at high risk. They have to screen everyone old enough to have had sex, the mechanism by which the Human Papilloma Virus is transferred.
Oral cancer is not uncommon. Think of it in this way. 100 people are going to be newly diagnosed with oral cancer every day, 365 days a year. 24 people will die from oral cancer each and every day or roughly one person every hour of the day 24/7/365. The early stages of oral cancer are for the most part, painless, and unfortunately may not be preceded by a sore or anything in the mouth that you may notice. Only a professional examination by a dentist or a hygienist who knows what they are looking for may unmask this terrible disease early enough to ensure treatment with a high survival rate. Avoid risky sexual behaviors.
Oral Cancer is dangerous! See your dentist for regular dental checkups but make sure you have an oral cancer screening exam at least once a year!