Oral Cancer Screenings: Saving Miles of Smiles
Regular trips to your dentist are always a good idea if you want to keep your teeth and gums in top shape and ensure that you maintain a nice healthy smile for as long as possible.
Various screenings for issues such as oral cancer and other preventative measures are some of the benefits listed at Carefree Dental, and the importance of good oral health and having regular dental examinations should never be underestimated.
Oral cancer awareness
The month of April is designated as Oral Cancer Awareness Month by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and the fact that close to 50,000 Americans each year will be diagnosed with either oral or pharyngeal cancer is proof that greater awareness and early diagnosis will help to save a number of lives.
The general public consensus would seem to be that of all the cancers, mouth cancer is a rare one and therefore the perception is that it is not something that is statistically likely to affect you, in comparison to other forms of cancer.
Cancer looms large in many people’s lives unfortunately and many families suffer the heartbreak of losing a loved one to some form of the disease. The fact of the matter is that about 132 new people will be told that they have been diagnosed with mouth cancer each and every day of the year, and that is just in the U.S.
That statistic sadly translates into one person dying from oral cancer every hour. If you add in the related figures for laryngeal throat cancers, the death rate rises even more alarmingly.
The potential light at the end of this dark tunnel is that oral cancers can have as high as a 90% survival rate, provided the disease is identified at the early stages of its development.
Who is at risk?
The mortality rates are higher than they could be simply because too many people either disregard the warning signs until it is too late or they don’t arrange regular screenings to help with an early diagnosis.
Oral cancer is actually the sixth most common cancer so it definitely should command your respect, so who is at risk?
The simple answer is that anyone can get oral cancer. As you might expect, heavy smokers and drinkers are likely to prove more susceptible to contracting this form of cancer, and your risk profile increases with age, so if you are aged over fifty, this puts you in a higher risk category from a statistical perspective.
Young people who have been diagnosed with the sexually transmitted disease HPV, have also recently been flagged up as at a higher risk of developing oral cancer, so anyone receiving or having treatment should be aware of this potential link.
Know the warning signs
There are a number of self-examination initiatives you can perform yourself, in addition to maintaining a regular dialogue with your dentist about any concerns that you might have.
Here are some of the symptoms that you should be looking for that may prompt further investigation and analysis.
Any sores that you have in your mouth that last longer than a couple of weeks and are particularly stubborn to heal.
Any noticeable lumps, swelling or growths that appear anywhere near or in your mouth or neck should be investigated.
Regular bleeding emanating from your mouth or throat.
Red or white patches in your mouth or on your lips should be checked.
If you experience difficulty swallowing or your voice is persistently hoarse, this is another potential sign that you may have a problem that needs further medical and professional analysis.
Early detection is key
It can obviously be extremely distressing to get any sort of cancer diagnosis delivered to you, but the positive spin and the hope that you have, is that early detection of oral cancer will greatly improve your survival rate.
The statistics thankfully support the theory that the earlier oral cancer is detected and treated, the greater your survival rate will be.
This should prove a great incentive in its own right, to visit your dentist regularly. Most dental plans cover you for twice-yearly dental checkups as part of the annual cost or a lower than normal fee, depending on what type of plan and level of cover you have.
As part of this regular examination, your dentist will check for any of the known oral cancer indicators. If they notice any irregular tissue or unexplained bumps and lumps in your mouth, a biopsy would normally be suggested, so that early detection of any potential cancer can be achieved.
Oral cancer screenings might not just be able to save your smile, it could be something that saves your life.
Guest Author :
Sebastian Knowles became interested in dentistry when he was about 8 or 9. He’s now a student at dentistry school and hopes to be able to run his own dental practice one day.