April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month,which is designed to raise awareness about the dangers that oral cancer brings and the importance of early detection. When these cancers are detected and treated early, mortality and treatment-related health issues are reduced.
This year is forecasted to see an estimated 54,000 new cases of oral cancer, but 43% of those diagnosed will not survive longer than five years, and many who do survive will suffer long-term problems, such as severe facial disfigurement or difficulties with eating and speaking. The death rate is particularly high because, so few cases are diagnosed early enough to allow doctors to effectively treat the disease.
When you visit your dentist, they are looking for dental issues involving your teeth and gums, but your dentist can also check for oral cancer during the same visit.
Oral Cancer Awareness month is the perfect time to schedule an oral cancer examination with your dentist. Ensure that this exam is made a routine part of all future check-ups.
Oral Cancer Defined
Research has identified a number of factors that may contribute to the development of oral cancers.
Historically, those at highest risk have been heavy drinkers and smokers older than age 50, but today the highest risk group are younger non-smokers infected by the human papillomavirus. This virus, HPV16, is now the leading cause of oral cancer.
An inclusive list of risk factors now includes any use of tobacco (smokeless tobacco, hookah, vaping, pipe and cigarette smoking), heavy alcohol consumption (especially when combined with smoking), sun exposure (lip cancer), gender (men are at greater risk), and age (greater than 40 years old).
Signs and Symptoms of Oral cancer
Here’s what you need to look for as potential warning signs of oral cancer.
When the suspected cause is tobacco use or excessive alcohol consumption:
Symptoms include difficulty chewing or swallowing, difficulty moving the jaw or tongue, pain in only one ear without loss of hearing, mouth sores, lump or other irritation inside the mouth, on your lip, or in your throat, and the appearance of a white or red spot inside the mouth, especially inside the cheek. All of the above symptoms have the commonality of being persistent and not resolving.
When the cause is HPV16:
Hoarseness or sore throat that does not resolve within a few weeks, or a painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, which has been there for at least two weeks. You might also exhibit a persistent cough that does not resolve after many days, and have difficulty swallowing (including a sensation that food is continuously being caught in your throat),
Always call your dentist right away if there are any immediate concerns.
The best strategy to avoid oral cancer is to avoid any tobacco products, heavy alcohol consumption or combining tobacco and alcohol.
Visit the dentist regularly for check-ups to screen for oral cancer, maintain proper oral hygiene including brushing and flossing regularly, and visit your dentist regularly.
If detected early, oral cancer can be treated effectively. The best course is a team approach, combining the skills of your dentist, surgeons, oncologists, and nutritionists.
Choices of therapies to fight oral cancer include surgery and radiation.
This Is the Time to Act!
Oral Cancer Awareness month is the best reason possible to focus on your dental hygiene, as well as your personal habits to reduce the chance of developing oral cancer. Using a premium and proven dental gel is a good place to start. Luckily, you don’t have to look far to find what you (and your teeth) need. Browse the LIVFRESH line of dental gels today.