Although we like to emphasize the importance of annual screenings for oral cancer, April provides an opportunity to stress the need through a month long, national campaign. Begin by visiting the American Dental Association’s (ADA) consumer updates on oral cancer at: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/Oral-Cancer-Slideshow?utm_source=mouthhealthyorg&utm_medium=mhhomerotator&utm_content=oral-cancer-awareness
Although Oral Cancer hasn’t received the publicity of cancers such as breast or colon cancer, it is important to be aware of warning signs, especially since Oral Cancer has one of the worst survival rates of all cancers.
• Oral Cancer occurs in the tongue, tonsils & oropharynx, gums, base of the mouth and in the lips and salivary glands.
• Oral Cancer takes the life of one American every hour, on average.
• Only 50 percent of those diagnosed with Oral Cancer will live more than 5 years.
• The dismal survival rate is due to Oral Cancer being typically found after the disease has advanced.
• Treatment for Oral Cancer can be horribly disfiguring.
• Oral Cancer occurs twice as often in men as in women
• The average age of diagnosis is 62. However, more than a fourth occurs in ages 55 and younger.
• Oral Cancer has increased over recent years due to links to the human papilloma virus (HPV).
• A small percentage of those who are newly diagnosed with Oral Cancer will develop cancer nearby, such as the larynx (voice box), esophagus or lung.
These statistics are alarming, which is why we use advanced technology to detect Oral Cancer at early stages. The Oral Cancer screening technology ViziLite gives our patients a process for early detection that is performed painlessly and quickly.
ViziLite uses a light source that illuminates suspicious areas in the mouth that are not always obvious in a visible exam. If found, we can advise on immediate steps to take.
Below are some signs and symptoms of Oral Cancer. Please share these with loved ones as well as the need to react without delay.
• Swelling, lumps, rough or crusty spots on the lips or inside the mouth
• White, red, or speckled spots in the mouth
• Difficulty swallowing or moving the tongue
• Numbness or pain on the face or in the mouth
• Persistent pain in the ear
• Sores that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks
• Feeling something is caught in the the throat or having a persistent sore throat
• Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice
It is important to react to any of these signs promptly. If you have not had an Oral Cancer screening in the past year, we hope the month-long focus of National Oral Cancer Awareness Month gives you new awareness of the need for regular screenings. It is important to be proactive when anything in your mouth or throat does not clear up within two weeks.