Every April, the dental community recognizes Oral Cancer Awareness Month to educate our patients and neighbors on this scary, and sometimes deadly, disease. In fact, oral cancer kills one person every hour, every day. More than 50,000 people are diagnosed every year. At our dental office in Douglasville, we want to do our part and help our community recognize the risks and signs of early cancer.
Who is at Risk of Getting Oral Cancer?
Anyone can get oral cancer. But there are several things that can put someone at greater risk. While we can’t change some of these risk factors, there are definitely some we can control. Some factors that increase the risk of oral cancer include:
Tobacco Use: 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users including those who smoke cigarettes, cigars, or use smokeless tobacco.
Drinking Alcohol: Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
Age: Those over the age of 50 are at increased risk of oral cancer.
The Sun: Unprotected sun exposure tends to put people at greater risk of oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Even though oral cancer can be treated successfully, treatment and survival increase greatly when oral cancer is caught early. This is why it’s incredibly important to know the signs of oral cancer. Some common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- A sore that doesn’t go away
- Irregular areas such as lumps, rough spots, or erosion
- Red or white patches
- Pain or numbness
- Difficulty speaking, chewing, or swallowing
If you notice any of these symptoms, call your dentist in Douglasville and schedule a checkup.
Regular dental appointments don’t just help protect your teeth from cavities. They’re also crucial to monitor your overall oral health. During your dental cleanings and exams, your dental team will be on the lookout for any concerning areas or warning signs that there may be a problem so that treatment can begin sooner rather than later. Early diagnosis of oral cancer may save your life.
Don’t put off your dental appointments. Call our Douglasville dental office to schedule an appointment today.
Oral cancer diagnosis is on the rise with an estimated 51,540 new cases expected in 2018. At our dental office in Douglasville, we understand how serious this life threatening disease is. In fact, the American Cancer Society projects that over 10,000 people in the United States will die from it this year. However, while oral cancer can lead to death, the five-year survival rate is 65%. Part of what contributes to this relatively high chance of survival is due to early diagnosis. During this Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we’d like to help raise awareness by sharing the importance of regular dental checkups that just might save your life.
Early Diagnosis Means Higher Chance of Survival
Oral cancer can be treated successfully. But the chance of survival greatly increases if the disease is caught in the early stages before the cancer has a chance to spread. According to the American Cancer Society, survival rates for different types of oral cancer vary depending on how much time its had to progress. They classify these progressions into three stages including:
- Local – Meaning the cancer has only affect the area which it started.
- Regional – This term is used for cancer that has spread to other tissues close by the original infection site.
- Distant – Cancer classified as distant has spread even farther to more areas of the body.
Some of the most common areas affected by oral cancer, along with their various five-year survival rates based on the stages listed above can be found in the table below, courtesy of the American Cancer Society.
|Lip||Tongue||Floor of the Mouth|
How To Catch Oral Cancer Early
The most effective way to diagnose oral cancer early when treatment is more successful is by recognizing the signs. Some of the most common signs of oral cancer include:
- A sore in the mouth that doesn’t go away and bleeds easily
- A chronic white or red area
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, or moving the tongue
- A lump on the cheek, tongue, or throat
- Coughing up blood
Additionally, seeing your dentist in Douglasville at least every six months can proactively monitor your overall oral health, including screening for oral cancer. Your dental team is trained to look for any areas that may be concerning. Regular dental checkups can help catch oral cancer early so that you can get treatment as soon as possible in order to increase your chances of beating it.
If you notice any potential problem areas or it’s just been awhile since you’ve been to the dentist, we’re always welcoming new patients and encourage you to call our Douglasville dental office to schedule an appointment. We’re dedicated to protecting your smile and your overall health.