Do you know the facts about oral cancer?
The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that close to 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Of course nobody ever wants to be on the receiving end of this diagnosis, but it is reassuring to understand that oral cancer is easily treated IF caught early! So, here’s what you need to know about oral cancer, its symptoms and what to do if you feel you may be at risk.
What to look out for:
Oral cancer usually starts in an isolated part of the mouth, but if left untreated, it will eventually spread throughout the mouth to the head, neck, and other parts of the body. Typically, the cancer presents itself as a sore that does not go away. One may also notice red or white patches around the mouth, an abnormal lump or mass within the mouth or on the neck, chronic sore throat, and bleeding from the mouth. Patients are encouraged to check monthly for any of these symptoms and to contact their dentist right away if they are experiencing one or multiple oral cancer symptoms.
What you can do to prevent oral cancer:
In addition to checking for the above symptoms, you can be proactive in the prevention of oral cancer. Did you know that smokers are three times more likely to develop oral cancer than nonsmokers? Also, those who abuse alcohol are 30 times more likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer than those who have healthier habits. If you want to help prevent the likelihood of getting oral cancer, you should also avoid ultraviolet exposure, limit intake of processed meats, and minimize contact with potentially harmful chemicals, such as asbestos, sulfuric acid, and formaldehyde.
Oral cancer diagnosis and treatment:
What will your dentist check for? What happens if oral cancer is detected? During your appointment, your dentist will feel for lumps, masses, and/or any abnormal tissue changes in and around your head, neck, face, and mouth. If something irregular is detected, your dentist will likely recommend a biopsy to gain more information. And you’re in good hands with Dr . E. She uses the Velscope tool to enhance the oral assessment of the soft tissue in the mouth. It helps reveal problems before they become problematic.
Treatment for oral cancer is similar to the way doctors attack other cancers. Surgery is typically done to remove the cancerous growth, followed by radiation and/or chemotherapy to zap all of the nasty cancer cells away. Here’s a comforting thought – patients diagnosed with stage 1 oral cancer have a survival rate of over 80 percent!
While the above facts about oral cancer are no doubt scary, they are important to understand. Dr. E urges patients to recognize that the mouth is not only the gateway to the body, it is one of our earliest modes of defense. If you have a lingering or suspicious lump or sore, don’t delay. Get examined promptly and remember that early treatment of oral cancer is key!
Visit Dr. E Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, voted one of the top 5 best Ahwatukee dentists. 4206 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 20, Phoenix, Arizona.