Despite the ever-present knowledge that smoking causes cancer, somehow the disease still remains the conundrum of our time. Yes, it’s obvious, but smoking, while dangerous, is not the only thing that causes cancer. So if you’re a non-smoker, you could still be at risk for oral cancer. In fact, if you excessively consume alcohol, stay out in the sun, have a family history of cancer, or have HPV, you could be almost as at risk as a smoker. That’s crazy to believe, isn’t it?
An estimated 40,000 people in the United States suffer from oral cancer per year, but what does it look like? If you’re experiencing bleeding in your mouth and don’t know why, this could be an indicator. Additionally, any swelling, bumps, lumps, rough patches, or areas or erosion in our around the mouth, lips or gums should not go unnoticed. Other symptoms include white or red patches in the mouth, a lingering soreness felt at the back of the throat or general pain or hoarseness in the throat. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately.
How can we stay on top of our health in such a cancer-ridden world? Orlando dentists from The Dental Specialists in Orlando offer oral cancer screenings for every patient. It’s hard to identify an early stage of oral cancer, but luckily a dentist in Orlando from the The Dental Specialists can identify it with ease. An early diagnosis means a significantly more positive prognosis.
During your oral cancer screening, we will check for the symptoms mentioned above. Attuned to the early-onset signs of oral cancer, we will be able to spot any sores or discolored tissue that are in the beginning stages. We might perform an oral brush biopsy and take a sample of suspicious looking tissue in the mouth. Another kind of test we might perform is called a scalpel biopsy—a more invasive form of looking at tissue involving anesthesia. With these tests and more, we will be able to catch the cancer in its early stages before it spreads.
Oral cancer’s treatment bears the exact same treatment plan to other cancers—radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Traditionally, people thought oral cancer had a pretty low survival rate, but only because it was usually discovered too late in its stages. Often times oral cancer is discovered when cancer is found in another part of the body, and then traced back to the mouth. In reality, the survival rate for people with oral cancer sits at 83% for those with cancer that has not spread, 62% for cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes, and 38% for cancer that has already spread to different parts of the body. And oral screening could put you in that 83% survival rate, so why wait until you recognize a symptom to go in? Let the Dental Specialists take care of you.
Aside from going in for an oral screening, you can watch out for and prevent oral cancer in a number of ways. Refrain from smoking tobacco products and eat a well-balanced diet. Additionally, avoid staying out in the sun for long periods of time. When you do go out, apply sun protective lotions to not just your body, but your face and lips as well. Every month or so, we suggest you conduct a self-exam. Inspect the roof of your mouth and pull back your lips to study your gums. Feel for lumps and keep an eye out for irregularities. In addition to taking these precautions, remember that regular visits to your dentist will help ensure your oral health and keep you on track to catching any problems early on and with ease.