Of all the reasons you may have for going to the dentist, wanting to be checked for oral cancer probably isn’t one of them. However, you should know that your dentist checks for this dangerous disease during routine exams – and you should also know a few other facts about oral cancer!
What You Need To Know About Oral Cancer
The American Cancer Society estimates that there are about 54,000 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed per year. It is responsible for about 2% of cancer deaths in the United States. The first symptoms of oral cancer may not seem threatening at all. You may notice a red or white patch of tissue in the mouth or a sore that just looks like a regular canker sore, but it bleeds and/or it doesn’t seem to be healing. You should also be on the lookout for:
- Growths and lumps
- Prolonged hoarseness
- Numbness in the facial/oral region
- Persistent earache
- Tongue pain or numbness
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Difficulty with chewing, speaking, or swallowing (this may feel like food is getting stuck in your throat)
The average age of diagnosis with oral cancer used to be 62 years, but lately more and more people under the age of 50 are being diagnosed with the disease. Those who use tobacco and those who excessively drink alcohol are also at higher risk, and the risk is even greater for those who use both tobacco and alcohol. However, you should also know that about 25% of cases have no risk factors at all for oral cancer, which is why you should keep an eye out for anything unusual even if you don’t drink or use tobacco.
The good news is that when oral cancer is detected early, the 5-year survival rate is 85%. And this is why early detection is so important! A check for oral cancer is just one of the many things your dentist will do at your twice-a-year cleaning and checkup, and this is just one more reason why you shouldn’t skip that trip to the dentist. Contact Hampton Dental Associates for an appointment today! Call the office in Milwaukee at (414) 464-9021. We invite you to also view our before and after gallery! Dr. Winter has diagnosed several cases of oral cancer over his 36 year career and it gives us much pride to know we have helped save lives.