Being that we are entering April, now is the time to be proactive and get yourself checked for oral cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 48,330 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer, and an estimated 9,570 people will die from oral cancer in 2016. In the spirit of April’s Oral Cancer Awareness, we urge you to receive regular oral cancer examinations. Remember—early detection saves lives!
Are you at risk?
The sad truth is that oral cancers are more than twice as common in men as in women, and the fastest growing group of oral cancer patients are young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals. It is more important than ever for young adults, as well as older men and women, to get regular screenings whether they think they’re at risk or not.
Knowing the risks can help you make educated decisions about your health. There are several risks that increase your chances of developing oral cancer:
- Smoking and using tobacco products have been a known long-term historic causes of oral cancer.
- Heavy alcohol usage also makes you more susceptible to develop oral cancer.
- The HPV virus, a sexually-transmitted disease, is the leading cause of oropharyngeal (the back part of the mouth) cancer.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The mouth is one of the body’s most crucial early warning signs in the fight against oral cancer. In between regular dental visits, it’s important to be aware of the mouth’s signs and symptoms. Remember, if you see any of these signs or symptoms, schedule an appointment at the office if you don’t see improvement within two-three weeks:
- Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice.
- The development of white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth.
- Lumps, thickening tissues, rough spots, crusty or eroded areas.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.
- A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together when you close your mouth.
- Dramatic weight loss.
- Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck.
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth.
Don’t wait any longer. In the spirit of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, be proactive about your oral health, and get checked today!