April 5, 2019
Did you know that an estimated 53,000 people will get diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and that roughly 10,000 people will die from this devastating disease? While oral cancer is not the most common nor the most talked-about type of cancer, it still deserves our attention. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, making it the perfect time for you to think about how you can protect yourself from this serious condition. Let’s discuss some of the reasons why you shouldn’t hesitate to visit your dentist for a quick and potentially lifesaving oral cancer screening.
Everyone Is at Risk
It’s a common misconception that only people who smoke or chew tobacco will develop oral cancer. In addition to tobacco use, major risk factors for this disease include prolonged sun exposure, a poor diet, heavy alcohol consumption (especially in combination with tobacco use), and the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is a particularly worrisome risk factor because it is extremely common, and many individuals do not even know they have it. Really, all adults, regardless of their lifestyle or daily habits, should get screened for oral cancer at least once a year.
The Signs Are Subtle
You should always be aware of changes within your body that might point to a developing health issue. Indicators of oral cancer include lumps in or around the mouth, patches of discoloration, unexplained pain, and changes to your voice. However, these signs and symptoms aren’t always obvious. When oral cancer is in its earliest stages, you might not have any idea that something is wrong. Your dental team is specifically trained to spot signs of oral cancer and may be able to alert you to the problem before you are aware that there is one.
Early Detection Saves Lives
The overall 5-year survival rate for oral cancer is 65 percent. Keep in mind, though, that most people who survive are diagnosed with oral cancer while it is still in its early stages — in fact, the survival rate in cases where the disease is detected early is over 80 percent. Individuals who do not get regular screenings may give the disease an opportunity to spread to the surrounding tissues. In cases where the cancer reaches distant parts of the body, the survival rate is below 40 percent.
The Screening Process Is Easy
There’s no reason to be nervous about getting an oral cancer screening. Your dentist or hygienist will perform a visual and tactile examination of your mouth and the surrounding areas. Nothing about the process is invasive or painful. If your dentist notices any suspicious areas, they’ll alert you to the problem and urge you to arrange further testing with a cancer specialist or your primary care physician.
When was the last time you got screened for oral cancer? If it has been more than one year, head to your dentist soon to undergo this quick, painless, and potentially lifesaving exam.
About West End Dental Group
West End Dental Group has been serving the Beaumont community for years. We offer compassionate, comprehensive dentistry, and we include an oral cancer screening as part of a routine checkup. If it is time for your next appointment, or you would like to learn more about our practice, contact our team today at 409-860-9600.
No comments yet.
RSS feed for comments on this post.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.