Every year, tens of thousands of people are diagnosed with oral cancer. This is a very serious disease that has a high mortality rate, and yet too many people don’t know much about it.
This becomes extremely problematic because the key to treating this cancer relies on early detection. If we can catch it in the earliest stages, it’s far more likely that it can be properly treated.
According to the National Cancer Institute, though, not enough people are getting the help they need. In fact, the statistics paint this picture:
- More than 49,000 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed in 2017
- An estimated 9,700 people will die as a result of this condition
- The 5-year survival rate for people who have been diagnosed with oral cancer is around 64%
It’s important to understand the risks and facts about oral cancer, so let’s take a closer look.
What are the Risk Factors?
There are several factors that can increase a person’s risk for this type of cancer. The most common include:
- Tobacco use – Even smokeless tobacco can greatly increase a person’s risk for developing oral cancer.
- Alcohol use – When you combine alcohol with tobacco use, it can seriously increase your risks.
- Sun exposure – It is possible to develop cancer in the lip area if you’ve been exposed to too much UV light.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – This virus has been linked to some of the recent growth in cases of oral cancer.
- Poor oral hygiene or nutrition – There are several hygiene factors that could contribute to an increased risk of cancer.
One more statistic that we should mention here is the increased survival rate that comes from early diagnosis. If any of these factors apply to you, it’s important to get screened as soon as possible, since studies suggest that the 5-year survival rate increases from 64% to 83% if it is detected soon enough.
What Are the Symptoms?
While the best way to spot any potential symptoms is keep your regular dental appointments, there are some things you can watch for on your own. If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to tell us about it immediately.
- Sores that bleed easily and don’t seem to heal
- Red or white patches on the soft tissues of the mouth
- Strange lumps or thick tissues appearing in the mouth
- Sore throats or hoarseness that doesn’t go away
- Problems chewing or swallowing
- Lumps in the neck area
How We Can Help
At LêDowns Dentistry, we are constantly updating the technology in our office to make sure that we always have the tools and techniques to properly and effectively detect the signs of oral cancer.
One of our most useful tools is the OralID system. This is a simple way to spot things that can’t be seen under normal light. It uses a fluorescence technology – a blue light that allows us to spot oral cancer, pre-cancer, and any abnormal legions while they’re still in their early stages.
It doesn’t require any rinses or dyes, so it’s convenient for us and the patient, and we can easily include this kind of screening with your regular checkups.
Oral cancer is a very serious problem, and prevention is the best way to fight it.
If you haven’t been in for a while, now’s the time to make an appointment for another checkup.