April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month, a time when the dental community rallies together to fight against a serious disease. While some may think oral cancer is rare, it will cause over 8,000 deaths each year, or about one person per hour every hour of the day. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation more than 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal (throat) cancer this year alone. Public awareness about this serious disease and its risk factors is crucial to saving lives. Dentists are in a unique position to perform head and neck exams and oral screenings every day that can help us identify abnormalities in the mouth at the earliest stage.
The fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients are young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals. That’s why it is more important than ever for all adults to have regular oral cancer screenings. Knowing the risks can also help you make educated decisions about your health. There are several risk factors for oral cancer, including:
• Smoking and tobacco use are long-term historic causes of oral cancer.
• Heavy alcohol use makes you more likely to develop oral cancer.
• The HPV virus, a sexually-transmitted disease, is the leading cause of oropharyngeal (the back part of the mouth) cancer.
Make sure to talk to your dentist immediately if you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one. The symptoms of oral cancer include:
• Sores in the mouth that bleed easily or do not heal
• A thick or hard spot or lump
• A roughened or crusted area
• Numbness, pain or tenderness
• A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down
A thorough oral cancer screening takes less than five minutes. When found early, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 percent survival rate. Unfortunately, most oral cancers — particularly types caused by HPV — are discovered at later stages of development resulting in an unnecessarily high death rate.
Dentists can be a first line of defense in identifying abnormalities in the mouth, which could be signs of oral cancer. Many people do not realize that oral cancer screenings are a routine part of a more extensive exam performed during routine visits to the dentist.
Regular dental exams / checkups in our office now include this oral cancer screening. We use OralID for Oral screening.
In honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, oral cancer exams are reduced to $20 in April and proceeds will be donated to the Oral Cancer Foundation.
Call 770-623-8750 to schedule your oral cancer screening today!