April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month
Oral cancer has existed outside the understanding of much of the public, yet 42,000 Americans will be newly diagnosed this year alone. Oral cancer is not a rare disease. It kills one person every hour of every day in the US, and 100 new individuals will be diagnosed each day with oral cancer. These staggering statistics make these free events crucial, as awareness of the disease and its risk factors in the US population is so low.
We urge anyone over 18 who is not seeing a dentist regularly to be screened.
Unfortunately at this time, the majority of cases are found as late stage cancers, which accounts for the very high death rate; about half those diagnosed will not survive more than five years. The good news is that it can often be found early in its development, through a simple, painless, and quick screening.
Who should get screened?
Every adult. Oral cancer can often be caught early, even as a pre-cancer. With early detection, survival rates are high and the side effects are from treatment are at their lowest. Like other screenings you engage in such as cervical, skin, prostate, colon and breast examinations, oral cancer screenings are an effective means of finding cancer at its early, highly curable stages. Make them part of your annual health check-ups.
What are the risk factors?
There are two distinct pathways by which most people come to oral cancer. One is through the use of tobacco and alcohol, a long term historic problem and cause, and the other is through exposure to the HPV16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16), which is now the leading cause of oral cancers in the US, and the same one, which is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women. The quickest growing segment of the oral cancer population are young, healthy, non-smokers due to the connection to this virus.
- Red and/or white discolorations of the soft tissues of the mouth.
- Any sore which does not heal within 14 days.
- Hoarseness which lasts for a prolonged period of time.
- A sensation that something is stuck in your throat.
- Numbness in the oral region.
- Difficulty in moving the jaw or tongue.
- Difficulty in swallowing.
- Ear pain which occurs on one side only.
- A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, still does not heal.
- A lump or thickening which develops in the mouth or on the neck.
An oral cancer screening should be conducted every year, if you are not seeing a dentist regularly please take advantage of this free offer and get screened today.
Call 617.566.5445 to make an appointment for your complimentary screening.
Longwood Dental Group is conveniently located at 1842 Beacon Street, Brookline at the Englewood Ave T Stop. (green line C train)
For more information about oral cancer, please log onto The Oral Cancer Foundation’s official website at www.oralcancer.org.