This year alone it is estimated that more
than 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed this year, and about 9,000 will die as a result of oral cancer. That is why educating yourself on prevention methods, early detection, and treatment options is more important than ever.
The number of people expected to be diagnosed this year with oral and throat cancers is VERY concerning. The good news is that early detection is quick, easy, and painless. As part of your routine dental exam, we will be screening you for oral cancer as well. A dentist can see and feel precancerous tissue changes and early cancer, and can diagnose them during the early, curable stages. When oral cancer is detected early, the survival rate is an encouraging 80% to 90% and treatment outcomes are also good.
Many oral and throat cancers today are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus, specifically HPV 16 and HPV 18. Because of the rapidly growing number of HPV-related oral cancer diagnoses, we strongly recommend that our patients age 17 years and older get screened yearly.
What Is an Oral Cancer Screening?
An oral cancer screening takes only three minutes. It consists of a verbal, visual, and physical examination and includes the following:
• A thorough review of your oral health history, as well as your overall health history, which includes questions that help assess your level of risk for mouth cancer
• A visual inspection of all the areas of your mouth and throat in an effort to locate any abnormalities, such as sores and red or white patches; this inspection includes the lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, floor of the mouth, roof of the mouth, and far-back section of your tongue
Oral Cancer Signs and Symptoms
In between routine dental exams, you should perform self-examinations. Some of the things that you should be looking for when doing self examination which may indicate either a cancerous or pre-cancerous lesion are any of the following:
• Red or white patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue
• Swelling or thickening of areas inside the mouth
• Unexplained bleeding
• Sores on the face, neck, or mouth that do not heal
• A Chronic sore throat
• Hoarseness in your voice
• A change in the way your dentures fit
• Suspicious lumps found by palpating your mouth, jaw, and neck
• Dramatic weight loss
• Inability to swallow, or difficulty in swallowing
• Swollen glands in the neck that do not go away
Oral Cancer Prevention Tips
Here are some of the things that you can do to minimize your risk of getting Oral or Throat Cancer:
• Avoid smoking and the use of all tobacco products.
• Limit drinking alcohol, or avoid it all together.
• Avoid overexposure to the sun, and use sunblock on your skin and lips.
• Practice safe sex. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus.
• Maintain a healthy diet.
Give our office a call today to schedule your Oral Cancer Screening. It just takes 3 minutes of your time. It’s quick, easy, and painless, and the life you save may be your own. Don’t wait one day longer. Call our office today for you personal screening and get the peace of mind that you deserve!