According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, close to 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. This disease will cause close to 10,000 deaths or what is equivalent to one death per hour.
Approximately 57% of newly diagnosed patients will live longer than five years. The death rate of oral cancer is significantly higher than other forms of cancer.
Oral cancer affects the oral cavity which includes your lips, cheeks, gums, portions of your tongue, and the floor and the roof of your mouth. It can also affect the throat or pharynx which includes the soft part of the roof of the mouth up to the back of the throat.
What are the symptoms of oral or throat cancer?
Symptoms of oral or throat cancer include sores or an irritation that does not go away, red or white patches, pain or tenderness on the lips or mouth, difficulty in chewing, swallowing, speaking or jaw movement, changes in the fit of the teeth, and lumpy rough spots, crust or eroded areas in the mouth.
According to some studies, there are certain groups of people who are more vulnerable to oral and throat cancer. These include smokers and heavy alcohol drinkers, especially those who are over 50 years old.
Recently, the surge of new cases of oral and throat cancers has been attributed to the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted. Oropharyngeal cancers attributed to the virus are often difficult to detect because cancer usually starts near or on the tonsils or at the base of the tongue.
As with other diseases, early detection and prompt treatment increase your chances of overcoming the disease.
During your scheduled visit to your dentist, you can ask for an oral cancer screening which will only take a few minutes of your time and will not require the use of special tools. During this examination, your dentist will conduct a visual inspection of your mouth, jaw, and neck. Your dentist will also take into account your medical history.
If you regularly visit your dentist, he is in the best position to note changes in your mouth and detect signs of oral and throat cancers. In between your visits to the dentist, take note of the aforementioned symptoms.
If you want to learn more about oral cancer screening or if you want to schedule a screening, please contact us today.