No one wants to think of the “C word,” but like with anything else, prevention is key. Oral cancer is talked about less than other types of cancer, but since we’re dentists, it’s one that we are particularly concerned about.
Many people mistakenly think that tobacco use is the only cause of mouth cancer. Twice-a-year visits to our family dentist in Sciota are for more than just a professional cleaning, even though those are very important. This is also, however, a time for our dentists to examine your teeth and mouth for any signs of oral (also called Oropharyngeal) cancer.
The Hard Truth about Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is extremely serious and is more common than most may think. More than 51,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in an average year, and according to the Oral Cancer Foundation, only 57 percent of newly diagnosed patients will survive more than five years. This is because usually oral cancer isn’t discovered until it has metastasized to other parts of the body, usually the lymph nodes in the neck.
Early detection when dealing with oral cancer results in the best chances of survival and avoiding long-term issues like severe facial disfigurement or difficulties with eating and speaking.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer often doesn’t present symptoms like pain. Instead, warning signs could include mouth ulcers, sores, soft tissue discolorations, bleeding easily from areas in the mouth or as a lump in the mouth and/or neck. Oral cancer could also cause sudden or unexplained weight loss or difficulty moving the tongue, swallowing or chewing.
How can I get Screened for Oral Cancer?
Screening for oral cancer is simple and non-invasive. Our family dentist at Chestnuthill Dental conducts oral cancer screenings twice a year during your regularly scheduled check-ups. This is one reason it’s so critical to keep those appointments.
Oral Cancer Affects More than Tobacco Users
Tobacco use greatly increases the likelihood of a person developing oral cancer, but other factors can contribute to it, too, such as age and heavy alcohol consumption. Oral cancer is also more likely to happen to men than women. Ultraviolet light and excessive sun exposure can cause oral cancer on the lips, and certain genetic conditions and medications — particularly those that involve immunosuppression — can also elevate the risk of developing oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Prevention in Sciota, PA
Your twice-a-year visit to Chestnuthill Dental is your best defense against the threat of oral cancer. If it’s been a while since your last exam, or if you forgot to schedule your next appointment the last time you saw us, give us a call at (570) 865-7929, or reach us online to book your appointment today.