April is oral cancer awareness month. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, close to 43,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Close to half (43%) of those diagnosed will not be alive in 5 years. As OCF states, “Historically the death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development.” That means that almost half of the people diagnosed don’t find it early enough because they aren’t getting to the dentist.
In its early stages, oral cancer often goes unnoticed by the patient because it does not cause any pain or symptoms that they would recognize.
The month of April is dedicated to raising awareness of oral cancer and stressing the importance of getting screened for this disease. Between dental visits, you can watch for the following symptoms if they stick around for more than two weeks.
- A sore or irritation
- Red or white patches
- Pain tenderness or numbness in your mouth
- A lump or thick area
- A rough spot, crust or eroded area
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- A change in your bite when you close your mouth
Those at high risk for oral cancer are heavy drinkers and smokers over the age of 50. HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, is also related to an increased risk of oral cancer even in non-smoking patients.
Paying attention to any abnormalities occurring in your mouth is essential. And when you notice something, schedule an appointment with your dentist to get it checked out. Early detection and treatment is the key to a complete recovery from oral cancer.
If you have any questions about oral cancer, contact Dr. Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the office at (603) 716-9812.