APRIL IS ORAL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH!!!
Annual dental visits are not only for cleanings, but oral cancer screenings are part of the dental routine to help detect changes in your oral cavity and the oropharynx. This month, we want to encourage our patients and others to pay a visit to their dentist for annual screening to help detect changes in their oral health and oral cancer at its early stages.
Is divided into two categories,
- Oral cavity – occurring in the lips, inside the lips and cheeks, teeth, gums, and the front two-thirds of your tongue and the floor and roof of your mouth.
- Oropharynx – occurring in the middle region of the throat, including the tonsils and base of the tongue.
It can be detected anywhere within the mouth, and usually, begin in the surface cells of our oral cavity. Anyone can get it, and often occurs in adults over 40 years old. According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, “close to 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 9,750 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 53,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years.” Which is a high percentage of people with cancer that has not improved over the past decade and it’s due to the cancer being found in its later stage.
There are many factors which can increase the risk of oral cancer. Such factors are
- Excessive smokers or alcohol drinkers
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Ultraviolet exposure (sun. sunbeds, or sunlamps)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Poor diet (more processed food than natural foods rich in nutrients.
Again, having regular check-ups which include a full examination of the mouth and neck area are critical to detecting oral cancer. Next time you visit your dentist, ask your dentist about your dental exam.
When it comes to early detection, you want to be aware of early signs indicating you need to follow up with your dentist or health provider if it persists more than two weeks. If you have the following, contact your provider now,
- Red or white patched.
- Sore in the mouth or sore throat.
- Loose teeth.
- Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips.
- A lump or thickening area in the mouth.
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving jaw.
- A shift in how your teeth fit when the mouth is closed.
If these symptoms persist for more than two weeks or you notice a change in these conditions, don’t wait to contact your dentist. Call them as soon as you can to make an appointment for a full dental examination.
Diagnosis and Treatment
It’s critical for oral cancer to be detected on time since it can be quickly spread. Diagnosis can take place during regular dental visits, and you can ask your dentist about your dental examination.
If detected early, oral cancer is often treated with surgery or radiation therapy. If it has been discovered in a later stage, both treatments can take place as well as chemotherapy. However, depending on your overall health, and where the cancer is located, the size and kind of cancer, will determine the best choice of treatment to take and if you will be referred to a specialist.
So, this month visit your dentist, if you haven’t already, to have your annual check-up and ensure you are not showing early signs of dental problems and for your oral cancer screening. Make an appointment with your dentist today by calling our office at 801-747-8000.
For more information, check out the information article, Oral Cancer, at Mouthhealthy.org.
Oral Cancer – medlineplus.gov
National Institution of Dental and Craniofacial Research – Oral Cancer
The Oral Cancer Foundation – Oral Cancer Facts