April is Oral Cancer Awareness month and I’d like to make sure all of the patients at my Holland dental office recognize how serious oral cancer is, know the risk factors associated with oral cancer, and understand the steps you can take to help with early detection.
The American Dental Association estimates that 42,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Of the 42,000, only a few more than half are expected to survive longer than five years after diagnosis. While oral cancer is not particularly difficult to treat, the fatality rate is so high because the cancer is often caught too late. This is why a proactive approach to early detection is so important.
A self-exam performed every month at home can help catch oral cancer early, and can contribute to successful treatment. Once a month, grab a mirror and a bright light and check out your mouth for some of the common symptoms of oral cancer. Some things you should look for are red or white patches of tissue, a sore that doesn’t heal on its own, abnormal lumps or thickening of tissues, and difficulty swallowing.
In addition to your once a month self-exam, it’s very important that you keep your regularly scheduled appointments with your Holland dentist. While it’s common for oral cancer to not seem to have any symptoms early on, our team is trained to see and catch any suspicious areas. Again, an early diagnosis means that we can start treatment before the cancer gets too widespread and greatly improves your chances of survival.
As with almost any disease, there are a variety of risk factors that can increase your susceptibility to oral cancer. Tobacco use, in addition to heavy drinking, are the most common factors that contribute to oral cancer. Furthermore, the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) can also put someone at increase risk for oral cancer.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms we’ve discussed, if you’re at increased risk for oral cancer, or you are in need of a checkup, call my Holland dental office as soon as possible. I can’t stress enough the importance of early detection and early treatment. Don’t put your life in danger. Schedule an appointment today.