One American dies every hour from oral cancer. 4 in 10 oral cancer patients will die within 5 years of being diagnosed. Oral cancer is definitely on the rise and it’s our job as parents to help minimize our child’s risk of getting this life-threatening disease. The scary part is, 65% of oral cancers go undiagnosed. Combined with the overwhelming 60% increase in HPV-induced squamous cell carcinoma in the past 30 years, it’s time we act to protect the younger generation from this entirely preventable disease.
How do we diagnose?
We know oral cancer kills. The truth is, oral cancer can be hard to diagnose without routine check-ups with your dentist. Because the dentist is likely the first one to examine your mouth in detail, they will likely see warning signs before your family physician.
- Oral cancer screenings can be done at the dentist with your cleanings and/or dental work
- A device called the “Velscope,” is used at our office, which is a harmless, blue light that highlights areas in the mouth that may be pre-cancerous, before it can be seen with the naked eye
- Biopsies of tissue can be used to diagnose oral cancer if any suspicious areas are noted by the dentist
Signs and Symptoms:
“It is up to the dental profession, to make a difference in the [oral cancer] survival rate,” says stage 2 oral cancer survivor, Barbara. Barbara suffered a stage 2 oral cancer scare when her dentist noticed a small bump on her tongue.
What to look for:
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Any red or white lesions, especially along the tongue
- A lump on your tongue/back of the throat or cheek that does not heal in two weeks
- Ear or tongue pain
When would NOW be a good time to get screened for oral cancer?
Our office happily conducts oral cancer screenings at every visit, as well as at patients’ request.