Oral Cancer – What You Need To Know

Categories: Dental Health

Every day 100 people in the United States are newly diagnosed with an oral cancer.

Every hour one person dies from it.

Every year oral cancer kills more people in the U.S. than skin cancer (malignant melanoma), lymphoma, thyroid cancer, and cervical cancer.

In 2015 over 30,000 people were diagnosed with oral cancer.

90% of patients survive when oral cancer is caught early. Only 5% survive when it’s caught at stage four.

Cancer: the word no one wants to hear.

What should you look for?

  • a sore or irritation that doesn’t heal
  • red or white patches
  • pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
  • a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
  • a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth

If you notice any of these signs, call our office for an appointment.

What to avoid?

Tobacco use, in any form, increases the risk of oral cancer. If you smoke or use smokeless tobacco, we recommend quitting – today. Ask us about different options for cessation; there is one that’s right for you.

Alcohol : People diagnosed with oral cancer tend to be heavy drinkers, consuming more than 21 alcoholic drinks each week. People who drink alcohol and smoke are six times more likely to get oral cancer as people who do not drink. The combination of tobacco and alcohol is particularly dangerous, according to M.D. Anderson Hospital.

Prolonged sun exposure to the lips increases the risk for lip cancer.

Risk of exposure to HPV 16 – the human papilloma virus. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, HPV is the leading cause of mouth and throat cancer. The particular strain of HPV16 is credited with generating the majority of non-tobacco and alcohol related oral cancers, and affects both males and females. You can read more by visiting: http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/hpv/hpv-oral-cancer-facts.php#sthash.zVlhKXet.dpuf

At our office

Routine hygiene visits are an integral part in preventing oral cancer. Each time you visit our office, we’ll perform a routine check for any signs of cell abnormality in your mouth. We will carefully check every aspect of your tissues and tongue; if anything suspicious is evident, we’ll conduct one of several screening tests to get more information. We may also remove any sores, lesions, or suspect spots, as this is the most effective way to reduce the incidence of oral cancer.

During a comprehensive exam, we use an instrument called a Velscope┬«, which causes the soft tissues to be naturally fluorescent. Healthy tissue fluoresces in distinctive patterns – patterns that are visibly disrupted by trauma or disease. Using this method, a wide variety of oral abnormalities can be discovered – often before they’re visible to the unassisted eye.

Remember, the surest way to beat this disease is to be educated about the first signs and symptoms and to have regular checkups twice per year.

Please call our office with any questions or to request more information on this topic. We’re committed to maintaining your excellent oral health.