Oral Cancer Awareness Month is right around the corner, and the team at Hancock Village Dental wanted to tell you more about why it’s so important in today’s blog. While oral cancer is one of the most commonly occurring types of cancer today, it’s not very well known. Oral Cancer Awareness Month is bringing attention to oral cancer numbers, oral cancer risks, and oral cancer signs. Here’s what you need to know.
How Many People Have Oral Cancer?
According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, more than 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer by the end of 2018. Of that number, it is estimated that it will be fatal for more than 10,000 people. When compared with statistics from as recently as a few years ago, it appears oral cancer rates are rising. While this is quite worrisome, there is good news: There are many things you can do to prevent oral cancer. If you’re diagnosed with oral cancer and get treatment early, your odds of recovery are quite good. The key is being proactive about screening and prevention — and those are both things that are completely within your control.
The Oral Cancer Risk Factors
If you’re at elevated risk for oral cancer, it’s very important to be aware of it. The risk factors for oral cancer can include:
- Tobacco use, including cigarettes and chewing tobacco
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- HPV infection
- Excessive sun exposure
- Poor dietary habits
- Consumption of betel nuts
- Age over 50
Of the factors listed above, most are fully controllable. Simply by living a healthy lifestyle, you’ll reduce your risk factors for oral cancer. If you have any of these risk factors, and especially if you have multiple risk factors, it’s wise to have an oral cancer screening scheduled as soon as possible.
Symptoms to Watch For
By knowing the symptoms of oral cancer, you can take quick action to get treatment if necessary. Symptoms can include:
- Pain when you swallow
- A “lump in your throat” feeling, even when not swallowing
- Bleeding in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Numbness in your lips or in your chin
- Ill fitting dentures
- A lump in your neck
- Discolored bumps or patches within your mouth
Just as with the risk factors discussed above, it’s important to see your dentist for an oral cancer screening right away if you notice these symptoms. Your dentist can verify the symptoms and can determine whether they’re actually caused by oral cancer or whether there’s another issue that requires medical attention.
The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
An oral cancer screening is important for everyone who is 18 or older. It’s especially vital as you age, as oral cancer is more common in middle-aged and senior people. Your dentist can do an oral cancer screening along with a standard dental exam once or twice a year. The screening is quite simple and quick. It involves the dentist checking your mouth’s soft tissues, your lips, and your neck for indicators of oral cancer.
If you have risk factors for oral cancer or if you have some of the indicators of oral cancer listed above, it’s best to contact the dentist right away to arrange a special screening. While you may not have oral cancer, even if you’re showing signs, it’s always best to be very proactive about diagnosis and treatment. If you do have oral cancer, an oral cancer screening allows your dentist to make the earliest possible diagnosis, which in turn means that you can begin treatment to deal with it right away.
Hancock Village Dental is focused on preventing oral disease, illness, and oral cancer whenever possible. Oral cancer prevention is part of what we do every day, and our Hancock Village Dental team feels passionate about helping patients feel their best while avoiding serious oral healthcare problems. Our dentist, Dr. Shovon Kasem, loves what he does. He is here to help patients achieve their best state of oral health — and then to maintain it for a whole lifetime afterwards. Want to learn more about how to take care of your health and prevent oral cancer? Contact Hancock Village Dental today for help!