THIS YEAR ALONE, 400,000 people throughout the world will be diagnosed with oral cancer. 40% of those diagnosed won’t live another five years. Oral cancer has such a dismal survival rate because it’s usually not detected until very late in its progression. Because April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we’re encouraging everyone to get screened this year during their regularly scheduled checkups.
The Risk Factors Of Oral Cancer
Like any other cancer, there are a number of risks factors such as alcohol and tobacco use as well as dietary factors. In addition, like any other disease, genetics also plays an important part. Detecting oral abnormalities early leads to more treatment options, potentially less invasive or radical treatment and better patient outcomes.
What To Expect At An Oral Cancer Screening
At every hygiene therapy appointment, the hygienist will look and palpate for any abnormalities as well as asking if you noticed any tissue or mouth sores. In addition, once a year a state of the art oral cancer detection machine called the VELscope will be used. This handheld device detects any cell changes in a non-invasive way using fluorescent technology. The entire exam takes less than 2 minutes.
Early Detection Is SO Important
Early oral cancer detection can boost survival rates to 80–90%! One of the reasons oral cancer goes undetected is because many of the symptoms are not painful. If you experience any of the following symptoms, please let us know right away:
- A lump or thickening of your cheek
- A white or red patch on any part of your inner mouth or throat
- A sore inside your mouth that doesn’t heal within two weeks
- Difficulty moving your tongue or jaw
- Numbness inside your mouth
- Chronic difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Jaw swelling
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense
Keep regularly scheduled cleaning appointments and screenings. Doing so GREATLY increases the likelihood that any problems will be detected early. It’s worth it.
Blythe Danner on Oral Cancer:
Oral health is of the utmost importance to our practice and we will continue do everything that we can to detect against this potentially life threatening disease.
As your trusted, lifelong oral health partner, we want to keep you and your loved ones as healthy as possible. Let us know if you have questions about oral cancer or any of the symptoms mentioned above. And share this information with someone you love!