April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month
April is the official Oral Cancer Awareness Month. 100 new people in the US every day will be newly diagnosed with an oral cancer and one person every day will die from it. It is not rare and screening for it as important as cervical, prostate, breast and other cancer exams.
Your dentist can help. At New Town Dental Arts we have has the skills and the tools to ensure that early signs or pre-cancerous conditions are identified.
Oral cancer screening is a routine part of a thorough dental examination. Regular check-ups, including an examination of the entire mouth, are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions. You may have a very small, but dangerous, oral spot or sore and not be aware of it. Your dentist and hygienist will carefully examine the inside of your mouth and tongue and in some patients may notice a flat, painless, white or red spot or a small sore. Although most of these are harmless, some are not. Harmful oral spots or sores often look identical to those that are harmless but testing can tell them apart. If you have a sore with a likely cause, your dentist may treat it and ask you to return for the re-examination.
Signs to look for:
- Oral cancer often starts as a tiny, unnoticed white or red spot or sore anywhere in the mouth.
- It can affect any area of the oral cavity including the lips, gum, cheeks, tongue and the hard or soft palate.
- A change in the way the teeth fit together.
- Oral cancer most often occurs in those who use tobacco in any form.
Other signs include:
- A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal
- A color change of the oral tissues
- A lump, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
- Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue
- Alcohol use combined with smoking greatly increases risk.
- Prolonged exposure to the sun increases the risk of lip cancer.
- Oral cancers can occur in people who do not smoke and have no other known risk factors. Oral cancer is more like to strike after age 40. Studies suggest that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may prevent the development of potentially cancerous lesions.
- There has been a nearly fivefold increase in incidence of oral cancer patients under age 40, many with no known risk factors. HPV 16 (human papilloma virus) is now implicated in young non-smoking cancer patients.
- The incidence of oral cancer in women has increased significantly largely due to an increase in women smoking. In 1950 the male to female ratio was 6:1 by 2002 it was 2:1.
Prevention and Detection
- The best way to prevent oral cancer is to avoid tobacco and alcohol use.
- Regular dental check-ups, including an examination of the entire mouth are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions.
- Knowing the risk factors and seeing your dentist and hygienist for oral cancer screenings can help prevent this deadly disease. Routine use of the Pap smear since 1955, for example, dramatically reduced the incidence and mortality rates for cervical cancer in the United States.
Get a dental check-up, get a screening, it may save your life!
Oral Cancer foundation - oralcancerfoundation.org
The American Dental Association - ada.org
The American Cancer society - cancer.org