April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and it is the perfect time to bring attention to the dangers of oral cancer and the importance of having routine cancer screenings done. Oral cancer is one kind of cancer you can get in the mouth, throat, tongue or lips, and if left undetected, can be life-threatening. The Oral Cancer Foundation asserts that around 54,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year alone, with around 10,000 of them likely dying from this terrible disease.
Oral Cancer Screening
According to the American Cancer Society, people who are considered to be at an average risk for oral cancer should undergo a cancer screening every three years, starting at age 20. However, people who use tobacco or alcohol or who have a history of oral cancer in their family may need to be screened more frequently. Additionally, those with HPV-related risk factors may benefit from an HPV-related cancer screening, which can be done through a simple mouthwash test.
When you come in for your cancer screening, our dentist will begin by evaluating your mouth and throat for the telltale signs of cancer. This includes looking for any red or white patches, sores, or lumps in the mouth. Should something suspicious be found, a biopsy may be done to confirm or rule out cancer.
Many people are not aware of the importance of cancer screenings or may put them off due to fear or discomfort. However, rest assured that cancer screenings are quick and painless while saving lives. By detecting oral cancer early, our dentist can help you receive prompt treatment to improve your chances of survival.
Oral Cancer Signs and Symptoms
It’s also important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer, which can include:
-A sore throat that persists for longer than two weeks
-A lump or thickening in your cheek or throat
-Problems when you swallow or chew
-A white or red patch on the tongue or gums
-Noticeable unexplained bleeding in the mouth
-Numbness or pain in the mouth or lips
Should you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with our dental team as soon as possible for screening.
Oral Cancer Prevention
-Avoiding tobacco use, including cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco
-Limiting alcohol consumption
-Maintaining proper oral hygiene habits like brushing twice a day and flossing daily
-Using lip balm with sunscreen to protect your lips from sun damage
-Getting vaccinated against HPV, if you are eligible
As you can see, Oral Cancer Awareness Month is an important reminder of the dangers of oral cancer and the importance of regular cancer screenings. Protect your oral and general health and wellbeing by watching out for the signs and symptoms of oral cancer and then staying on top of the steps outlined above to reduce your risk of developing this serious disease.
Schedule Your Dental Checkup
Our caring dental team urges you not to put off your cancer screenings – as they could very well save your life. We invite you to give us a call today to schedule your dental checkup and oral cancer screening. Your smile will thank you!