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11Apr2013

April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

THIS YEAR ALONE, 400,000 people throughout the world will be diagnosed with oral cancer. 40% of those diagnosed won’t live another five years. Oral cancer has such a dismal survival rate because it’s usually not detected until very late in its progression. Because April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we’re encouraging everyone to get screened this year during their regularly scheduled checkups.

What Are The Risk Factors Of Oral Cancer?

Anyone can get oral cancer, however some factors may increase your likelihood of developing the disease:

  • Ultraviolet light: Cancers of the lip are more common among people who work outdoors
  • Poor nutrition: Studies have found a link between diets low in fruits and vegetables increase chances
  • Gender: Oral cancer cancer are twice as common in men as in women.
  • Age: The average age at diagnosis for oral cancer is 62
  • Tobacco use: About 80% of people with oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers use tobacco in the form of cigarettes, chewing tobacco or snuff. The risk of developing oral cancer depends on the duration and frequency of tobacco use. Smoking can lead to cancer in the mouth or throat, and oral tobacco products are associated with cancer in the cheeks, gums, and inner surface of the lips.
  • Alcohol: About 70% of people diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers. This risk is higher for people who use both alcohol and tobacco. For people who smoke and drink heavily, the risk of oral cancer may be as high as 100% more than the risk for people who do not smoke or drink.

What Can I Expect From An Oral Cancer Screening?

We here at Kaufman Orthodontics specialize more with the treatment of braces. However, if we do find something of concern at your visit, we will refer you to the appropriate professional for a follow up appointment. Your general dentist is a good source for a complete oral cancer screening

A good Oral Cancer exam is visual AND tactile. It takes eyes trained in what and where to look for things, and gloved fingers to feel particular areas as well. Some doctors will use additional devices to do the exam. These might be different kinds of lights (like Vizilite®), rinses, and dyes that help them visualize areas of suspicion. Rest assured that while these add to the thoroughness of the exam, a well-done visual and tactile examination with the eyes and fingers only, when conducted by a trained professional, will do a good job of finding oral cancer early if it is done annually.

Early Detection Is SO Important

Early oral cancer detection can boost survival rates to 80–90%! One of the reasons oral cancer goes undetected is because many of the symptoms are not painful. If you experience any of the following symptoms, please let us know right away:

  1. A lump or thickening of your cheek
  2. A white or red patch on any part of your inner mouth or throat
  3. A sore inside your mouth that doesn’t heal within two weeks
  4. Difficulty moving your tongue or jaw
  5. Numbness inside your mouth
  6. Chronic difficulty swallowing or chewing
  7. Jaw swelling

The Best Offense Is A Good Defense

Keep regularly scheduled cleaning appointments and screenings. Doing so GREATLY increases the likelihood that any problems will be detected early. It’s worth it.

As your trusted, oral health partner, we want to keep you and your loved ones as healthy as possible. Let us know if you have questions about oral cancer or any of the symptoms mentioned above. And share this information with someone you love!

Other Resources:

MouthCancer.org
OralCancerFoundation.org
Cancercenter.com

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