In the United States, close to 48,250 people will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. One person every hour dies from oral cancer. Over 130 new cases diagnosed daily in the US. Of those diagnosed, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years. This is a great reason to see your dentist for regularly for examinations even if you wear a complete set of dentures. Oral cancer is often painless in the early stages. Early detection drastically increases survival rates. We do a visual oral cancer screening at every visit with your hygienist.
Oral cancer is more prevalent in people who use tobacco, have a high rate of alcohol consumption or are infected with the human papilloma virus (HPV). Cancer on the lips can be prevented with lip balm with SPF and limiting exposure to the sun.
Oral cancer can exhibit itself in several different ways. It can appear as a white or red patch of tissue in the mouth or look like a small ulcer that doesn’t heal. Other symptoms may be a mass inside the mouth or neck, pain or trouble swallowing, hoarseness that lasts for a long time or numbness in the oral/facial region. A quick, inexpensive, painless biopsy can be done to see if your symptoms are a concern for oral cancer.