April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. At Galleria Dentistry, we want to help spread awareness of this widespread, fatal, yet preventable disease.
Oral cancer is a part of the head and neck cancers. The National Cancer Institute notes that 75% of all head and neck cancers originate in the oral cavity. Specifically, 30% originate in the tongue, 17% in the lip and 14% on the floor of the mouth. Other data indicates that the tonsils, the base of the tongue and the oropharynx are becoming more common areas of oral cancer origin.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation more than 48,000 Americans get oral cancer each year, resulting in over 9,000 deaths. The five-year survival rate is slightly below 60% and those that do survive the initial onset of oral cancer, report major functional, psychological and cosmetic difficulties due to difficulties in speaking, chewing, swallowing and breathing that result from oral cancer treatment.
As devastating as oral cancer is, early treatment and prevention can save thousands of lives.
The largest factors contributing to the devastating outcome of oral cancer include improper and infrequent screenings and late diagnosis.
The early stages of oral cancer often go unnoticed by patients as they don’t always involve painful, bleeding, swollen sores or lesions.
A thorough, systematic examination of the mouth and neck need only take a few minutes and can detect these cancers at an early and curable, stage. Our goal is to discover oral, head and neck cancers early, before patients present complaining of pain, a mass, bleeding, otalgia, or dysphagia.
Regular screenings are important in helping the dentist catch the oral cancer early, which is key to treatment.
Oral cancer screenings have increasingly become a part of the general, routine dental exam that accompany dental cleanings.
What to Expect in an Oral Cancer Screening
A thorough oral, head and neck cancer examination is usually done in under 5 minutes. It mainly encompasses inspection and palpation (feeling). Our dentists will explain to you what they will be doing before doing it.
A patient’s family and medical history will be looked at. The lips will be looked at for asymmetry and lesions. Our dentists will also observe their speech and voice.
It is important the dentist know the connection of changes in the patient’s face and body and possible cancer risks.
In the oral cancer screening, our dentists will look specifically at:
- The Face
- The Oral Cavity
- The Buccal Mucosa (inside of the cheek)
- Floor of the Mouth
- Hard and Soft Palate
- The Oropharynx
- Posterior Pharyngeal Wall
- The Neck
- Hypopharynx and Larynx
Early detection is vital in stemming the occurrence and progression of oral cancer. When oral cancer is allowed to spread and advance to later stages, it can very well take your life.
Regular screenings that are done during each twice-yearly teeth cleaning is the best way for us to diagnose, evaluate and administer proactive and preventative treatment.
You don’t have to put your life at risk. At Galleria Dentistry we want you to have a healthy mouth and body and long, happy life.
Let us help you prevent or halt possible oral cancer by scheduling a dental examination and teeth cleaning appointment today.