Did you know that nearly 46,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year? The disease kills roughly one person every hour, 24 hours a day! These are appalling statistics, but guess what? When caught early, oral cancer has an amazing survival rate. That’s why your dental team completes oral evaluations during each regular dental appointment, including an oral cancer screening. Early detection is the key to survival!
Regular Oral Cancer Screenings Can Save Your Life
The Oral Cancer Foundation tells us that over the course of several years, the death rate associated with oral cancer is very high. But this is not because it’s particularly hard to discover or diagnose, but because the signs of oral cancer can slip by the untrained eye. Without visiting the dentist, early symptoms may be easy to miss.
Oral cancer can affect any part of your mouth: the lips, cheeks, gums, all sides of your tongue, and the roof of your mouth. This is why your dental professional checks all areas of your head, neck, and mouth during your screening.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
The American Dental Association identifies the following risk factors can make a patient high-risk for developing oral cancer.
- Tobacco use or excessive alcohol consumption, especially if combined
- HPV infection
- Age (adults over the age of 44 have higher chances of developing oral cancer)
- Gender (men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer than women)
- Poor nutrition — a diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help reduce the occurrence of oral cancer
Don’t Skip Out on Your Screenings!
An oral cancer screening is a quick process that can be performed during your regular professional dental cleaning. During the screening, your dental professional will examine your mouth for certain warning signs of the disease.
Symptoms to Look Out For
Listed below are some signs and symptoms of oral cancer. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, tell your dental professional.
- Irregularities in the mouth, such as bumps, rough spots, swellings or erosions
- White, red or speckled patches in the mouth
- Unexplained tenderness in the mouth
- Numbness in the face, neck or mouth
- Persistent, bleeding sores on the face, neck or mouth
- Sore throat
- Difficulty with normal jaw function: chewing, speaking, moving
- Change in voice
- Ear pain
- Noticeable change in the alignment of teeth
- Dramatic weight loss
Remember that early discovery of oral cancer makes treatment far easier and increases the chance of survival. A screening can be completed in the very same appointment as your regular dental evaluation, so take advantage of everything your dental visit has to offer.
About the Office of Dr. James Kalina
When you choose to visit us, we make sure every dental appointment is thorough and personalized for you. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of oral cancer, but need a professional’s opinion, feel free to call and ask our advice. Our friendly office team would be happy to schedule an appointment for an oral evaluation, including the oral cancer screening, for you.