ORAL CANCER SCREENING
Oral cancer will claim the lives of approximately 10,000 people living in the United States this year alone. An estimated 51,000 others will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. With the input of these statistics, the American Cancer society states that oral cancer will be responsible for 2.9% of diagnosed cancer cases.
The tongue, tonsils, gums, lips, cheek lining, hard palate and floor of the mouth are the most common locations to host oral cancer.
Risk factors include:
- Male gender: they are twice as likely to develop the disease
- Over the age of 50 years old
- Heavy smokers
- Frequent consumption of alcohol
- Skipping dental exams (dental exams aid in the early detection)
- UV exposure from either being out in the sun or from sunlamps
- GERD (gastro-intestinal reflex disease; more commonly referred to as acid reflux)
- Previous head and neck radiation treatments
- Poor diet
- HPV: an emerging risk factor in the oral transmission of sexually transmitted HPV; getting vaccinated aids in the prevention.
Signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:
- persistent sores in the mouth that do not heal
- bleeding that persists for longer than a week
- pain and discomfort in the mouth for longer than two weeks
- new lumps in the mouth or neck
- ear aches
- soreness around the mouth
- an eruption of new red and white patches
While it is recommended that you maintain your regular visits with you dentist to aid in the prevention of oral cancer, we understand that it is not always the case and sometimes we put off our health. However, this disease process has a 90% cure rate if caught early. If you have any of the signs or symptoms mentioned above or any risk factors, you should visit your dentist to have your mouth screened. A delay in screening for this cancer is costly and could be fatal. Take charge of your health now.