Stay Healthy With An Oral Cancer Screening
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect time to remind you to schedule a dental cleaning and exam.
In case you are wondering why, we do more than look for tooth decay and gum infections when you visit our office in Longmeadow, MA. We also conduct an oral cancer screening for you.
This is less common than cavities and periodontal disease, thankfully, but it’s even more important to find this particular problem as soon as possible if you do have it. That’s one of the reasons we hope you will visit Dores Dental. If you have not yet scheduled your next dental appointment, call 413-241-3995 now!
Learn The Symptoms
Early detection can be invaluable. According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, 57 percent of oral cancer patients whose condition is found in the late stages survive after five years. That survival rate rises to 80 percent or higher when oral cancer is found in the early stages.
As much as we want you to visit us regularly for dental checkups, you also should know what the symptoms of oral cancer are between appointments. After all, cancer doesn’t just show up when you come to the dentist or the doctor.
Pay close attention if you notice any of these signs:
- A growth or lump inside your mouth
- A mouth sore that doesn’t heal within a couple of weeks
- Pain when eating or swallowing
- A constant feeling of hoarseness
- Frequent mouth or ear pain
- Patches of red or white soft tissue inside your mouth
- Loose teeth
These symptoms can be caused by other things, so having them does not necessarily mean you have oral cancer. At the same time, it’s better to get tested and find out that you don’t have cancer than to have it and do nothing about it.
In 9 out of 10 cases of oral cancer, doctors are able to identify the cause or causes. This also means you can be proactive about reducing your risk of oral cancer.
One of the things you can do for your oral and overall health is to avoid tobacco. These products contain scores of known cancer-causing chemicals. Tobacco use has been linked to between 75 and 90 percent of new oral cancer cases, according to the foundation.
Alcohol is the second leading cause of oral cancer. Specifically, heavy alcohol use is known to raise the risk of oral cancer. This is defined as consuming 21 or more drinks per week.
Even if you aren’t a heavy drinker, you can significantly raise your risk if your drink and use tobacco at the same time.
The third leading cause of oral cancer is the human papillomavirus (HP-16 in particular). For most people, this virus has no effect on their health, but for 1 percent of the population, it can lead to oral and other kinds of cancer. There is a vaccine, which is recommended for kids around age 12. If you have questions about this vaccine, talk to your family doctor.