April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.
This year, an estimated 54,000 people will be diagnosed with this disease. We hope you don’t get it, but we also want you to be knowledgeable about this illness.
Our Sabal Dental team is taking time today to share a few things you should know about this condition.
When you come in for a checkup, we conduct a thorough examination of your mouth. We aren’t just looking for gum disease and cavities. We are watching for anything out of the ordinary that could indicate oral cancer is present.
Finding this kind of cancer in the early stage is particularly important. When it is found early, the five-year survival rate is between 80 and 90 percent depending on the kind of cancer. When it is found in the late stages, that survival rate drops to 57 percent, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.
Tobacco use is the leading risk factor for this (and other) kinds of cancer. Heavy alcohol use (21 or more drinks per week) also comes with an increased risk of oral cancer. Low alcohol use in combination with tobacco use also raises your risk.
Among younger people, HPV is an increasingly common cause of oral cancer.
Signs & Symptoms
Here are some signs and symptoms that occur when someone has oral cancer:
- Sores that do not heal within 14 days
- Lumps or thickening of soft tissues of the mouth
- Lumps or masses in the neck or jawline
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Chronic hoarseness
- Numbness in the oral and facial area
- A persistent earache on one side
If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your physician.