April is Oral Cancer Screening Month
Part of our mission is to educate our patients about oral health and raise awareness about serious oral diseases. It is our hope that by sharing information and raising awareness, we will be able to help our patients identify, diagnose and treat oral cancer.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, more than 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal (throat) cancer this year alone. Public awareness is key to saving lives, which is why we are addressing this issue. Dentists have a unique opportunity to perform head and neck exams and oral screenings on each patient, helping identify any abnormalities in the mouth at the earliest stage.
Surprisingly, young, healthy, non-smoking individuals are the fastest growing population to develop oral cancer. It's not only smokers who can get oral cancer! Here are some risk factors:
1) Heavy alcohol use
2) Smoking or tobacco use
3) HPV virus, a sexually transmitted disease is the leading cause of oropharyngeal (the back part of the mouth) cancer.
What are the Symptoms?
Talk to your dentist immediately if you see or feel something that is not quite right. Symptoms of oral cancer include:
1) Sores in the mouth that bleed easily or do not heal
2) A thick or hard spot or lump
3) A roughened or crusted area
4) Numbness, pain or tendernedd
5) A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down
As Always, Early Detection is Key
It takes less than 5 minutes for an oral cancer screening. When discovered early, there is an 80-90% chance of survival rate. However, most oral cancers, especially the types that are caused by HPV, are discovered at a later stage, resulting in a high death rate.
If you feel that something is just not right in your mouth, don't wait! Make an appointment with your dentist for an oral cancer screening.