Oral Cancer Awareness Month

OralCancer Month

We screen all adult patients, with and without risk factors, twice a year using the newest in Oral Cancer screening technology, Velscope.  Screening with Velscope is easy and non-invasive.  It is able to detect dysplastic cells below the top layer.  This allows for early diagnosis, which can lead to early intervention and treatment.

The major risk factors are:

-Over 40 yrs old
-Smoker – even social smokers are at risk
-Chewing tobacco
-Cigar smoking
-Alcohol consumption, including mouth washes that contain alcohol
-Family history of ANY type of cancer
-History of HPV, Human Papilloma Virus
-History of an abnormal Pap Smear resulting in anything other than a repeat Pap smear.
-Sun exposure
Roughly 25% of oral cancer diagnoses do not have any risk factors, so get screened today!

Incidence and Survival

Oral cancer accounts for roughly 2% of all cancers diagnosed annually in the United States.  Approximately 36,500 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer each year and about 7,900 will die from the disease. On average, only 61% will survive more than 5 years.

 The Importance of Early Detection

Early Detection Saves Lives!  With early detection and timely treatment, deaths from oral cancer could be dramatically reduced.  The 5-year survival rate for those with localized disease at diagnosis is 83% compared with only 32% for those whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body.  Early detection of oral cancer is often possible. Tissue changes in the mouth that might signal the beginnings of cancer often can be seen and felt easily.

Warning Signs

Lesions that might signal oral cancer

Two lesions that could be precursors to cancer are leukoplakia (white lesions) and erythroplakia (red lesions). Any white or red lesion that does not resolve itself in 2 weeks should be evaluated and considered for biopsy to obtain a definitive diagnosis.

Other Possible Signs and Symptoms:

  • Lump or thickening in the oral soft tissues
  • Soreness or a feeling that something is caught in the throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  •  Ear pain
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
  • Hoarseness
  • Numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth
  • Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable.

If these problems persist for more than 2 weeks, a thorough clinical examination and laboratory tests, as necessary, should be performed to obtain a definitive diagnosis. If a diagnosis cannot be obtained, referral to the appropriate specialist is indicated.

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