We need to talk about oral cancer and warning signs. This year about 54,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer (that means mouth and throat) and 11,230 will die from it. The death rate for these kinds of cancer is high because they are usually not detected until it is at an advanced or late stage. Surgeries can be difficult and disfiguring.
Many oral cancers can originate from Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections. According to the CDC, most sexually active people will develop HPV infections during their lifetime. Most will not be aware of it because 9 out of 10 will clear the virus on their own. For some individuals, the virus can remain dormant and return later as cancer. It is recommended that all preteen boys and girls ages 11 to 12 be vaccinated for Human papillomavirus (HPV).
Oral cancer prevention and detection tips:
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year
- Ask your dentist to perform an oral cancer exam to evaluate abnormalities
- Abstain from using all forms of tobacco
- Disclose your medical history to your dentist – including sexually transmitted diseases
- Avoid alcohol use
- If you notice growths, discolorations, tenderness, or bleeding in your mouth, contact your dentist right away
Other warning signs to look for:
- Difficulty swallowing or a sensation that something is stuck in your throat
- A persistent cough that does not resolve after several days/weeks
- Any change or hoarseness in voice that persists for more than a few weeks
- Unilateral ear pain
- Any painless, fixated lumps on the outside of the head or neck that persist for two or more weeks
Early detection is KEY, and the best way is to have a dentist perform an oral cancer screening at each visit. An oral cancer screening should be done at every visit to the dentist. Your dentist or dental hygienist is trained to look for any abnormalities and refer them to a specialist. It is a combination of visual and palpation of the head and neck areas inside and outside of the mouth.
At Stoneridge Dental we are committed to fighting oral cancer. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our office!